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CA2 TUTORIAL PAPER 1

Name of Student: Michael Curtin G00313894


Article/Reading: Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers

1. CONCISE SUMMARY OF READING


The Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers reiterates and makes
explicit the values and standards that have long been experienced by
pupils/students through their participation in education. (The Teaching
Council, 2016). The Teaching Council has committed itself to ensuring the
Code is promoted and observed so as to maintain public trust and
confidence in the teaching profession.

The code applies to all teachers registered with the Teaching Council. Its
purpose according to the article is threefold;
It first acts as a guiding compass for teachers. The co-ordinates
of this compass are very much set in stone, to lead (registered)
teachers on a virtuous, moral and dutiful path throughout their
careers. This must be done whilst also upholding the honour and
dignity of the profession.
Secondly the code is used by those in the education profession as
well as the general public to advise them of what is expected from
the teaching profession in Ireland.
Finally, this updated code has an important legal standing
especially in relation to the newly included Complaints Relating to
Registered Teachers section. It is therefore used by the Council as
a reference point in exercising its investigative and disciplinary
functions under Part 5 of the Teaching Council Acts, 2001 - 2015,
dealing with fitness to teach.
The Code sees educating as the teachers primary focus. However, to do
this certain ethical values are to be upheld. The following are highlighted
within the document;
Respect teachers must support human dignity and promote
equality within their classrooms. The teacher must also
demonstrate and respect cultural values, diversity, social justice,
freedom, democracy and the environment.
Integrity this is about the teachers actions, acting upon what they
say they will do, making commitments and following through on
them. With great power comes great responsibility.
Trust the code highlights trust as being a major player in
successful teaching, and that building successful teacher-student
relationships is key to a fair and honest classroom.
Care here the code highlights that in the classroom, the teacher
is taking the place of the parent as their students carer and the
teacher must at all times act in the best interests of his/her
students.

The code goes on to set out standards for all teachers regardless of their
position within their respective organisations. The following themes are
included;
1. Professional Values and Relationships
2. Professional Integrity
3. Professional Conduct
4. Professional Practice
5. Professional Development
6. Professional Collegiality and Collaboration.

Complaints relating to Registered Teachers


Following amendments to the Fitness to Teach sections of the Teaching
Council Acts 2001-2005 in April 2016, any person including members of
the teaching council can make a complaint against a registered teacher.
Complaints can be made on one or more of the following grounds;
professional misconduct, poor professional performance, and conduct
contrary to the Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers. Existing
agreed procedures are in place nationally to deal with complaints at a
school level while only complaints of a serious nature will progress to an
inquiry.

To conclude, the code sets out to ensure that the values and standards of
the teaching profession are ethically and morally upheld by all registered
teachers no matter what their position within a school/organisation. It
has set out very specific standards which registered teachers should
adhere to.

2. CRITICAL REFLECTION
What strikes me immediately about the code is the fact that it sets out the
standards of the teaching profession for registered teachers. The code
does not include students in initial teacher education, which makes me
wonder, what code do I adhere to? Of course, it is this code, but should it
realistically include student teachers? Our guiding document is the School
Placement Handbook, which has many similarities to the Code of Conduct.
The Handbook specifies the precise professional and ethical
requirements and responsibilities for students teaching at second level
(GMIT, 2016). Likewise the code makes explicit the values and standards
that have long been experienced by pupils/students through their
participation in education (The Teaching Council, 2016). Take for
example, the code states that teachers must show care through positive
influence, professional judgement and empathy in practice (The Teaching
Council, 2016). Similarly, the handbook clearly outlines that in the
absence of the parents/guardians, the student teacher has a duty of care
and must therefore model virtuous behaviour (GMIT, 2016).
Internationally, Scotland have published a separate code specific to
student teachers alongside a code for registered teachers (GTC Scotland,
2012). What strikes the reader instantly about the Scottish student
teacher code is that it is intended to be supportive in the development
of the training teacher. This is unlike the code of professional conduct
which clearly sets out the standards set out by the teaching council, and
expected of the public. Maybe this nurturing, developmental type of code
is more suited to student teachers on their journey to becoming fully
registered teachers.

The Code has many strengths, particularly in the extreme detail of the
standards that teachers should adhere to. However, I too see this as its
greatest weakness. The use of the word should in my opinion is a big
flaw. For a legally binding document published by the Teaching Council it
is clear that the standards are a must. There is a huge loophole here if a
case of misconduct were to end up in a court. For instance, the code
states that teachers should maintain high standards of practice in
relation to pupil/student learning, planning, monitoring, assessing,
reporting and providing feedback (The Teaching Council, 2016). However,
does this necessarily mean they have to? In Finland, the Education Sectors
Union website states that, the profession demands that teachers
demonstrate high ethical standards (OAJ, 2012). This is a more
appropriate way to phrase a document of such importance.

One of the biggest changes in this second edition of the Code is the area
of complaints relating to registered teachers. For the first time in history it
is possible for any citizen to file a complaint against a registered teacher.
When this document was first published, I recall many practising teachers
being against this change as it meant any person who possibly held a
grudge against them could potentially ruin their career by even making a
complaint, true or not. However, reading up on the Departments website,
it is the school that will deal with all complaints through the board of
management. As is the case in most schools the board will be made up of
people local to the area, and should therefore know the people forwarding
the complaint and investigate/judge if it is credible or not. If a complaint is
to be true, the board must then decide whether it is serious enough to
lead to an inquiry. Surprisingly the Department does not have the power
to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction in
investigating or resolving a case (DES, 2016).

To conclude, the teaching councils code of professional conduct for


teachers, sets out thirty three very specific standards which teachers
should adhere to. The code itself is well written and structured, but there
are some faults which will have to be looked at and resolved by the
council.

3. LIST OF REFERENCES

Bibliography
DES, D. (2016). Complaints, Bullying, Child Protection, Discrimination - See more at:
http://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Information/Complaints-Bullying-Child-
Protection-Discrimination/Parental-Complaints. Retrieved from Education.ie:
http://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Information/Complaints-Bullying-Child-
Protection-Discrimination/Parental-Complaints.html
GMIT. (2016). School Placement Hanbook. Galway.
GTC Scotland. (2012). The Student Teacher Code. Glasgow.
OAJ, T. (2012). Ethical Principles for the Teaching Profession. Retrieved from The
Education Sector Unions:
http://www.oaj.fi/cs/oaj/ethical+principles+for+the+teaching+profession
The Teaching Council. (2016). Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers.