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Article/Reading: Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers


The Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers sets out standards which apply to all
teachers and their profession. The document was first designed by the Teaching Council of
Ireland in 2006 and was amended in 2012 following an extensive amendment procedure.
This document was designed to help regulate teaching in Ireland while promoting the
teaching profession to the public to help enable them to gain trust and knowledge about
the profession. The code describes what professional teaching should look like by
acknowledging that teachers are learners too and that they have needs which should be
met by supporting and developing their learning no matter what their professional position
is. (The Teaching Council, 2016)

Purpose of the code:

The Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers applies to all registered teachers. Its
purpose is threefold:

1. It helps teachers by giving them a “guiding compass” to help navigate them onto
an “ethical and respectful course” for the duration of their careers in a teaching
profession. This in turn allows teachers to “uphold the honour and dignity of the
teaching profession”.
2. The code is not just for those in the teaching profession or education community,
but it’s also for those in the wider community who want to inform themselves on the
“understandings and expectations of the teaching profession in Ireland”.
3. Important legal information is embedded within the code and often the Council
uses this information as a point of reference while conducting investigations into
disciplinary actions being taken “under Part 5 of the Teaching Council Acts, 2001 -
2015, dealing with fitness to teach”.

Structure of the code:

The code has a structure which begins by “setting out the ethical foundation for the
teaching profession.” Captured throughout the code are the values which it is built upon;
“Respect, Care, Integrity and Trust.”

 Respect: Teachers must maintain human dignity and encourage equality and
emotional cognitive development within the whole school environment. Teachers
should also demonstrate respect for other cultures and their spiritual values as well
as being mindful of diversity, social justice, freedom, democracy and the
environment throughout their teaching profession.
 Care: Teachers’ are not in the school environment as just educators, they are
there to motivate their students to become the best they can through “positive
influences, professional judgement and empathy in practice.”
 Trust: Teachers’ create relationships with their “students, colleagues, parents and
school management.” Developing these professional relationships among the
various groups are essential for teachers to be able to succeed in an educational
 Integrity: “Honesty, reliability and moral action” are all elements which a teacher
should hold. Teachers need to be professional around making commitments,
being responsible and taking proper actions within their classroom.

The code sets out standards for registered teachers. The standards identify teachers’
professional responsibilities. Listed below are the standards embedded in the code:
− Professional Values and Relationships
− Professional Integrity
− Professional Conduct
− Professional Practice
− Professional Development
− Professional Collegiality and Collaboration

Context of the code:

The code identifies teachers as “reflective practitioners” who have a role to educate the
youth of today. They also see teachers as “advocates” of learning communities to help in
the supporting of student teachers as well as newly qualified teachers. The code is not just
setting standards for today, they are planning for the future by creating platforms for
“continuing professional development” besides the likes of the CPD courses. (The Teaching
Council, 2016) The council also accepts the role and rights of the pupils and parents in
their right to have a voice with regard to the education being taught.

Complaints relating to registered teachers:

Complaints and difficulties happen during the day to day running of a school and can
usually be sorted out at school level. The council believe that schools have the capabilities
of sorting out these minor incidents without the need for external interventions. But
complaints of a “serious nature” can be brought forward to any member of the Teaching
Council of Ireland in relation to a registered teacher “on one or more grounds” which can
be found in “section 24(1) of the Teaching Council Acts, 2001-2015.” The grounds are as
− Professional Misconduct
− Poor Professional Performance
− Conduct Contrary to the Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers
− Convictions

The complaints put forward will be considered in “accordance with the Teaching Council
Acts, 2001-20015.” In certain circumstances, some situations and incidences can be put
before a jury which may lead to convictions of the teacher.

After reading through the Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers, I felt I was more
informed about the Teaching Council of Ireland and the implications which it has on the
teacher’s profession. The code also shows how the teaching council assesses the
standards and ethics of teachers within the work place. The Code of Professional Conduct
for Teachers was created by the Council to allow teaches to have a reference point with
regard to giving clarity on the standards set and ethical values within the teaching circle
as well as matters arising in the schools. The Code goes into considerable detail with
regard to incidents of a “serious nature.” The document allows teachers to understand
where they stand with regard to official complaints brought against them.

The code allows professional teachers to be clear on what is expected of them through
the highlighting of fundamental standards and values which are the backbone of the
code. These values are; Respect, Care, Trust and Integrity. The values are what teachers
should base their teachings around as the main aim of any lesson is to deepen and
develop students’ knowledge by allowing the classroom to be a student-centred learning
class rather than a teacher-centred one. From my own experience of teaching practice I
understood the differences between the two approaches, and from my own
methodologies I know that the classroom should be student centred and the teacher
should have core values in mind throughout the duration of the class. I cannot understand
how some teachers become displaced with the core values, what does this suggest, if
over time teachers become complacent and fall into a comfort zone of a teacher-
centred class? How are these teachers dealt with? Are teachers then given training to
remind them of why they became teacher, because for me I am training to be one so that
I can make a difference, by allowing children to grow in a nurturing environment while
allowing them to become the best that they can be. The values outlined are what allow
teachers to assess themselves with regard to the way they teach and if they are hitting the
required standards set out in the code to provide sufficient learning for students.

It can be seen that Ireland and the UK’s Codes of Professional Conduct are similar. The
fundamental principles which are the main backing of the Code are very alike. The main
aims of both codes are to keep the teachers focus on the principal outcome and that is,
to teach the students in a way which allows them to become the best that they can be
through guided teaching. (CDET, n.d.)

The Code of Professional Responsibility set out by the educational council of New Zealand
is very different to that of the Irish and UK’s Code of Professional Conducts. The New
Zealand Code have their code broken up into four distinct Codes of Professional
Responsibility. These responsibilities are as follows: Commitment to the teaching profession,
Commitment to learners, Commitment to families and whānau and Commitment to
society. Within the document it states that, “This resource provides positive examples of
what the principles of the commitment statements might look like in practice. It also gives
examples of behaviour that is unacceptable and would be in breach of these
expectations” (Education Council, 2017). This code in theory sets out one hundred percent
clarity on what teachers can and can’t do. Furthermore teachers know their responsibilities
with regard to the upholding of standards and ethics and they will be reprimanded for
their actions if they do not comply.

To conclude, it can be seen that the Teaching Council needs to assure that what is being
stated in the Code is actually happening in the schools. It’s all well and good to have it
checked off in a theoretical sense but are the council sure that the code is being correctly
implemented for the sake of the students with the focus of the standards and ethical

Association, T. A. T., 2004. Code of Professional Conduct, Alberta: The Alberta Teacher's
CDET, n.d. Code of Professional Conduct and Practice, s.l.: s.n.
Cosán, n.d. Teaching Council of Ireland. [Online]
Available at: https://www.teachingcouncil.ie/en/Teacher-Education/Teachers-learning-
Droichead, n.d. Teaching Council of Ireland. [Online]
Available at: https://www.teachingcouncil.ie/en/Teacher-Education/Droichead/
Education Council, N. Z., 2017. The Code of Professional Responsibility - Examples in
Practice, Wellington, New Zealand: Education Council .
Féilte, n.d. Teaching Council of Ireland. [Online]
Available at: https://www.teachingcouncil.ie/en/FEILTE/
The Teaching Council, 2016. Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers, s.l.: s.n.