50,000 teachers to be regulated by peers under Teaching Council proposals

THE country’s 50,000 teachers are to be regulated by their peers under plans by the Government to establish the long-awaited Teaching Council this year.

The council will have an important role in the registration of all teachers, professional conduct and standards, and advising Government on teacher supply and training.

The council was legislated for in 2001 but the Department of Education has delayed implementing its provisions until now. However, the department has sought applicants interested in becoming the council’s first director this week.

“We expect to appoint a director in the next two to three months and it is hoped to have the council fully operational by the end of the year,” a department spokesperson said last night.

The 37-member council will include 22 people elected by teachers or nominated by their unions, four nominees of education colleges and other third-level institutions, four members nominated by school management bodies and two parent association nominees.

The Minister for Education will appoint five members, to include a Congress of Trade Unions nominee and another nominated by employers’ group IBEC.

A key function of the council will be to establish a code of professional conduct.

It may hold inquiries and impose sanctions in relation to any registered teacher’s fitness to teach.

The council’s disciplinary committee will have power to remove or suspend someone from the Register of Teachers, or impose conditions on their retention. The council will also be empowered with promoting the profession of teachers, and advising the minister for education on professional development, teacher supply and minimum qualifications for teacher training programmes.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation welcomed the imminent establishment of the council, whose register will mean only those qualified to teach can be employed in schools.

“It is an opportunity to make real progress in areas where the State has failed, such as teacher supply and professional development.

“Policy failures by Government have led to an unacceptable situation where there are large numbers of untrained people in classes,” said INTO general secretary John Carr.

More than 3% of primary school classes are being taught by people with no teaching qualifications. The INTO has said its members will not work in schools with such staff from September 2005.

The council will also be conferred with responsibility for evaluating teacher- training courses.

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