A language teacher has admitted to fraudulently creating documents about his qualifications with the aim of securing a second level teaching post in Ireland.
A fitness to teach inquiry on Friday heard that the teacher, who cannot be named for legal reasons, left his trainee teaching post in the UK prior to completing an induction period needed to become fully qualified.
After returning to Ireland in early 2020, he received an offer of a teaching post in a secondary school the following September on condition that he became registered with the Teaching Council.
However, he said he was told by the council that he needed to complete his induction period in order to be registered.
The teacher admitted to providing a fraudulent certificate from the UK's Teaching Regulation Agency indicating that he had completed his induction.
The correspondence included a section which was supposed to be filled out by the principal of his former school, and included a stamp purporting to be from the school. The teacher admitted to filling this out himself and falsifying the document.
When the teacher’s qualifications were later queried, the inquiry heard, he attempted to cover-up his actions by falsely claiming that he had fallen foul of a “scam” and had been defrauded by an official of the agency.
Shortly afterwards, he made a complaint to the Ombudsman, claiming that his application to be placed on the Teaching Council register amounted to “clumsy discrimination”, and repeated the claim he had been scammed.
However, the teacher, who was present for the inquiry hearing on Friday, later admitted to the Teaching Council that he had falsified details of his qualifications and was “deeply ashamed” of his actions.
“I am truly sorry for all the harm caused by my actions,” he said. “I cannot express enough how deeply ashamed I am of my actions, which are deeply out of character for me.”
The teacher told the inquiry he suffered from anxiety and depression and had felt under acute pressure to support his family in Ireland.
He said he became increasingly anxious and stressed when he realised he could miss out on a secure teaching post due to his qualifications, and that his anti-depressant medication hampered his ability to think clearly.
“Falsifying the documents was a stupid and dishonest move.., I am deeply ashamed of my actions…It was at a low point in my life. I made one mistake, and I will never make it again,” he said.
Several character references were produced from schools where he previously worked. They praised his dedication and care towards students.
However, the principal of the UK school where the teacher did not complete his induction said he had some concerns over his classroom management.
The teacher went on to complete his induction at an Irish school under a rule introduced during the Covid-19 crisis aimed at recognising the qualifications of teachers who qualified abroad.
Hugh McDowell BL, who appeared for the director of the Teaching Council, told the inquiry that the teacher’s actions amounted to professional misconduct and were a breach of the teachers’ code of conduct.
He said the teacher had “failed to uphold the standards of the profession” and that his conduct was “fundamentally lacking in integrity, honesty and values which the Teaching Council seeks to promulgate among its members.”
The Teaching Council's three-person disciplinary committee inquiry panel - chaired by Charlie Dolan and teachers Kathleen Burke and Noel Cronin - adjourned on Friday evening to continue its deliberations. It is anticipated that it will issue a report by April 13th.
Where a finding are made against a registered teacher, the Teaching Council’s disciplinary committee panel may apply no sanction, admonish or censure the teacher, or apply conditions to the teacher’s registration. It may also suspend or remove the teacher from the register.