A SCOTS teacher who was fighting to keep his job after facing allegations that he called one of his pupils a “p**i” has been told he is still fit to teach.
Keith Gilmour taught religious, moral and philosophical studies at Boclair Academy in Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire in 2016 when he is claimed to have made the slur towards a pupil of Pakistani heritage.
The 50-year-old also faced a further allegation that he reprimanded the same pupil in an aggressive and intimidating manner, which caused the pupil fear and distress.
Gilmour was also hit with allegations that he participated in a video with a friend’s 11-year-old child in the child’s bedroom, and shared it on social media.
He was also alleged to have made a slew of opinionated comments on his public Facebook page, and allegedly wrote into a Scottish newspaper with opinion pieces.
Gilmour faced a five-day hearing this week from teaching watchdog the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).
However, the three-person panel needed only four days, finding yesterday that although some allegations were proved, they were proven by way of admission.
Gilmour admitted that he had filmed a video in the bedroom of a family friend with their child and that he had written into newspapers with his opinion pieces.
However, the GTCS felt that this was not an indication that the veteran teacher should be struck off from the teaching register.
Gilmour has vehemently denied all other allegations, claiming that the accusation over his use of the slur never occurred, and that the student – known only as Pupil A – was the one repeating the word.
The Presenting Officer for the GTCS, Gary Burton, argued that there was still an issue surrounding the fitness to teach as Mr Gilmour had shared the videos with the friend’s child online.
He said: “If the panel find that the teacher has breached [fitness to teach] the guidance sets out several questions.
“The panel will have to make an assessment on that and in my submission the teacher still seems to be of the view, to a certain extent, that he has done nothing wrong.
“Has he grasped the nature of these posts? The panel will also wish to consider the steps to remediate and learn from these posts – his social media is now private, and we have heard he is still working as a teacher at Bishopbriggs Academy.
“It will be a matter for the panel that if there has been a breach, to what extent has his conduct fallen short?”
The teacher’s own representative Michael Briggs spoke of his client’s attempts to remediate his behaviour, including his willingness to stop writing opinion pieces for newspapers.
Briggs said: “Mr Gilmour is more cognisant about how things can be accessed on social media and the way things can be used.
“He has begun to use [social media] a lot less and makes sure his social media is locked down.
“In respect to allegation five it relates to opinions that have been expressed and he has retired his green pen and stopped writing into newspapers.
“In my submission there is no misconduct shown – perhaps a lapse in judgement in seeing how the post could be perceived and what the post could be.
“The only way to remediate that is simply to not put yourself in that position and Mr Gilmour, as evidenced yesterday, doesn’t engage in political debates on a public forum any further.”
After deliberations, the three person panel announced their decision, saying: “Found teacher’s conduct did not fall short of professional standards, decision will be issued as soon as possible, normally within 28 days.”
Gilmour had denied all allegations at the start of the week’s hearing and is now fit to return to his post at Bishopbriggs Academy in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire once the summer holidays finish.
He denied ever using the slur towards Pupil A at any time throughout their time together at Boclair Academy, Bearsden.
However, Pupil A alleged when giving evidence to the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) earlier this week that the teacher had called him the slur whilst at the door of the classroom.
Gilmour denied this and told the GTCS how the relationship between Pupil A and himself was always littered with questionable jokes.
He said: “Pupil A – what was our relationship like? He was in my class one year, occasionally kind of silly but I don’t remember having to refer him.
“Then, in lunchtime club he came alone and made friends at the club, I would say I had a good relationship with him.
“[He was] Argumentative in a sense, I can’t remember Pupil A and I ever having a serious, sensible conversation – he just liked saying the most ridiculous things at 14-years-old.”
The educator then revealed that there had been previous exchanges which he had ruled as jokes in his mind and had felt he didn’t have to report them to senior members of staff.
Gilmour said: “The pupils would sometimes come and go and when I said to a group, ‘Can you people clean up this litter’, he would say ‘You people, you people, what are you saying about my people’ – then he would pretend to be from a tribe.”
Gilmour went on to explain that he was teaching a class on racism when Pupil A allegedly started using the word p**i – which the student then accused him of saying after being told to stop using the word.
Gilmour divulged: “I wasn’t used to hearing that word as a teacher. I used to teach an S4 unit on racism legitimately and the word would come up there.
“I don’t remember ever having to tell a pupil off for using that word.
“Initially, I just wanted him to stop saying it – I think I said something like ‘Okay that’s alright, stop saying it’.
“I’m guessing that wasn’t the response that he expected as he then said off the cuff: ‘You said it’.
“It seemed almost like a reflex action – for example if you tell a pupil to empty their mouth and they say they’re not chewing and it goes back and forth.
“I don’t know whether to say he was smirking but I said I didn’t say it and I told him in a stern tone I didn’t find it funny.
“I told him if he said it again that he was out the door and he said it again so I told him that was it, to get out.
“If a teacher told a joke with that word in it, I would expect there would be serious consequences.
“He came wandering in the next day as though nothing had happened – I told him after [the day before that] unless he apologised there was no way he was coming back in.
“The same thing happened the day after – I felt he had to apologise as he had accused me of using a word that is deeply offensive.”
In regard to the allegation that he reprimanded Pupil A in an aggressive and intimidating manner, Gilmour claimed that although he spoke to the pupil, it was not in an intimidating manner.
He told the GTCS earlier this week that he never was aggressive towards any pupil including Pupil A.
Gilmour said: “I went to the end of the corridor – he was sitting with his friends by the door and I just said ‘You, out here now’ – basically I was going to tell him to stop repeating that I had said this word.
“You’re encouraged to deal with things by yourself and I felt I could go along and insist he stop claiming that I had used this word.
“I don’t think – viewed objectively – any member of the public would think it is intimidating, I didn’t invade his space.
“I’m not comfortable with eyeballing people – while you’re reprimanding them.
“He [Pupil A] just stood there and sneered, he didn’t say anything.
“I said ‘You know damn well that I didn’t say that word so stop saying that word or go down and repeat it to the head teacher right now’ and I remember the ‘right now’ being the loudest part.
“I was hoping that was an end to it and the thing would be sorted out that way and he would take the warning and take the reprimand and he wouldn’t keep saying it.
“The next thing was a week after that a pupil came into the lunchtime club and she turned to me and said ‘He’s still saying you said that word’.
“If I hadn’t have yelled at him, I don’t think we’d be here today. I was told it had changed from having said the word to having called him the word.”