Saturday, December 27, 2008

Standards for teachers: How amazing

Any standards at all have to be welcomed these days. Similar standards for students are too much to expect, of course. Do I sense a double standard there? Do teachers recognize what is needed to gain respect but not convey that to those they teach? "Everything is relative" certainly seems to be often taught. Traditional Leftist double standards, it would seem. Story from Britain below

Teachers must behave as pillars of the community and be role models to their pupils, the industry’s professional body said yesterday. Those who drink heavily and disgrace themselves - even outside school hours – face disciplinary action for bringing the profession into disrepute, whether or not they have broken the law. Some teachers have had to undergo counselling or provide medical proof of abstinence from alcohol to remain on the teaching register, the General Teaching Council admitted.

Yesterday the teaching council presented a draft of its new code of conduct for teachers, on which it is consulting. The wellbeing of children is the main thrust of the code, with an even higher billing than learning. Teachers could be disciplined if they fail to cooperate with social workers or do everything in their power to protect children, the draft code says. They should pick up on and address problems at the earliest possible stage. They must also report colleagues if they have concerns that their practice puts children at risk.

The draft code says that teachers have to demonstrate high standards of honesty and integrity, and uphold public trust and confidence in the teaching profession. This includes teachers “maintaining standards of behaviour both inside and outside school that are appropriate given their membership of an important and responsible profession”.

Keith Bartley, the chief executive of the General Teaching Council, admitted that expectations of teachers had increased significantly in the past few years. He said: “The new code will have to reflect the fact that teachers are working more closely with other professionals. Some of the cases that have had national prominence recently show that, if a teacher has concerns, they have a duty to raise and pass on those concerns.”

Whereas the previous code, drawn up in 2004, set out what teachers should not do, the 2008 draft describes in unambiguous terms how teachers are expected to behave. Sarah Stephens, director of policy at the teaching council, said: “It gives greater clarity about what it means to act as a role model, and about a teacher’s conduct outside the classroom.” Mr Bartley added that, at some of the organisation’s professional misconduct hearings, teachers had been required to agree to undergo therapy. He added that teachers could be found guilty of unacceptable conduct without breaking the law – for example by belonging to a party that held racist views. “We’re saying to teachers that, as individuals, they have to consider their place in society,” he said. “There’s a sense that this [code] has to reflect society’s expectations of the people to whom we commit our children.”

David James, the teaching council’s head of professional regulation, said: “We have the ability to apply conditions to a teacher’s registration. We can say to people, ‘You can remain a teacher but you must undertake retraining, or counselling, or provide evidence of abstinence from drinking’. That happens quite frequently.”

The draft code requires teachers to forge links with parents, and consider their views. It also says they must keep up to date with technology and social changes. The organisation is investigating what schools and local authorities are doing to tackle the problem of incompetent teachers. It will report the findings of its research next year.


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