Teachers can finally be fired - A lesson learned

TRADITIONALLY, it has been notoriously difficult, if not impossible, for the State to dismiss a bad teacher, or even to hold an inquiry.

As from today, however, powers for dealing with misbehaving teachers, or even removing the right to teach from those who might not be up to the job, finally come into effect. Astonishingly, generations of both school children and teachers have come and gone in the 15 years since moves were first made to address this difficult issue.

These dramatic steps have been a long time coming, and credit is due to Education Minister Richard Bruton for triggering the fitness-to-teach provisions of the law governing the Teaching Council, thus giving it the authority to investigate complaints and conduct inquiries against the 90,000 teachers on its register.

In the computer age, when instant information is readily available, it is hard to believe that it took 15 years to confirm that all the teachers were on the council register. Effectively, the council will now have much the same power as the Medical Council to hold inquiries in public. It will also have the necessary teeth to issue sanctions, including the power to remove a teacher from its register.

Removing a person’s ability to teach in state-funded primary or second-level schools is tantamount to giving them the sack. Alternatively, a teacher could also be suspended for up to two years. Parents will welcome these initiatives.


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