Functions of Council
The Teaching Council was established under the Teaching Council Act 2001 as an independent body. Its objects are to regulate the teaching profession and the professional conduct of teachers. It also establishes and promotes the improvement of standards in
- teacher education and training,
- teacher competence in primary and post-primary schools,
- professional conduct.
It promotes continuing education and training and professional development of teachers.
In fulfilling the above objectives, the Council may
- promote teaching as a profession,
- establish and maintain codes of professional conduct
- establish a register of teachers.
- determine the education and training qualifications required for registration
- establish procedures in relation to the probation and induction of teachers.
The Council may conduct inquiries into the fitness to teach of any registered teacher It may commission and publish research. It may represent the teaching profession on educational issues. It acts as the competent authority for recognition of teachers for EU purposes. It may cooperate with its Northern Ireland equivalent.
The Teaching Council is appointed by the Ministers and it is to include
- 11 primary school teachers, 9 elected by teachers and 2 appointed by recognised trade unions.
- 11 post-primary school teachers, seven elected by teachers and four nominated by trade unions.
- 2 nominated jointly by the Primary Teacher’s Education Colleges.
- 2 nominated jointly by the universities.
- 4 nominated by recognised school management organisations,
- 2 nominated by national associations of parents,
- 5 nominated by the Minister,
- 1 nominated by IBEC and
- 1 by the Congress of Trade Unions.
There are provisions for election of members of the Council. Owing to questions over the appointment of the first Council legislation was passed in 2006 to confirm their appointment.
Register of Teachers
The Council establishes Register of Teachers. It prescribes information to be entered in the register which may include
- personal particulars of teacher qualifications,
- registration number,
- employer details,
- disciplinary findings,
- other information.
The Register is to be published in such form as the Council considers appropriate. It is to be kept at the Council’s offices and may be inspected on terms described by the Council.
Teachers in recognised schools who are not registered or have been from registration must not be paid out of monies provided by the State.
The Council may make regulations providing for conditions of registration including those
- related to qualification,
- evidence of character,
- teaching experience,
- medical fitness.
The Council may refuse to register persons who do not satisfy the criteria for registration. Where the Council makes the decision not to register a person as a teacher, the person concerned must be given notice of the decision and may apply to the High Court for an annulment of the decision.
Registration may be issued subject to conditions for a specified period. Failure to comply with the condition leads to deregistration. Registration is valid for 12 months and must be renewed.
The application must be made during the period of registration. If a registered teacher fails to apply, the Council will give notice of this and give a further month in which to make application for registration.
A teacher who has been removed from the register may apply to the Council for new registration as if it was a first registration.
Teacher Education and Training
The Council advises the Minister in relation to
- minimum education standards for teacher education and training,
- professional development,
- teachers’ supply and
- any other appropriate matte
The Council must review and accredit programmes of teacher education and training provided by institutes of higher education, review the standards of education and training appropriate for a person entering the programme and review standards of knowledge, skill and competence required for the practice of teaching.
Fitness to Teach
The Council may hold a fitness-to-teach inquiry to investigate professional misconduct. Professional misconduct means conduct contrary to the code of professional conduct or engaging in any improper conduct which otherwise makes him her unfit to teach.
The Council or any person may apply to the investigating committee for an inquiry into the fitness to teach of a register teacher in relation to
- professional misconduct
- ineligibility to register,
- medical unfitness to teach.
- breach of Education legislation.
The application must be in writing accompanied by documents as may be relevant.
The director shall act as secretary to the investigating committee and refer applications to it. The director shall refuse an application where it does not satisfy the requirements or where it is frivolous, vexatious, an abuse of process or made in bad faith. Where this occurs, he must give notice of the decision and the basis within 21 days.
The investigation committee may hold an inquiry in respect of an application which is accepted.
The committee may refuse to consider an application where the application is not on one of the permitted grounds or there is insufficient material to warrant an investigation.
Where an investigation is held, a copy of the application is given to the teacher together with the opportunity to make comments. The investigating committee shall consider the submissions. It may request further information and submissions.
The investigating committee may refer the matter to a disciplinary committee or refuse the application. The complainant, the teacher and his/her employer are to be notified.
The disciplinary committee shall hold investigations in relation to matters and complaints referred to it. A panel consisting of between three and five members of the committee is appointed and reports its finding to the disciplinary committee. It must specify the nature of the application, the evidence and other matters it considers appropriate.
If the Investigating Committee refers a complaint to the Disciplinary Committee, an inquiry will take place before a Panel of the Disciplinary Committee. A panel consists of not less than 3 and not more than 5 members of the Disciplinary Committee. Please note that an inquiry could take the form of either an oral hearing, or an examination of documents and written submissions. If an oral hearing takes place, the Act states that it will proceed in public unless:
- An application is made by the teacher, or a witness, which may include the complainant, to hold all, or part, of the inquiry otherwise than in public, and
- The Panel of the Disciplinary Committee is satisfied that it would be appropriate in the circumstances to hold all or part of the oral hearing otherwise than in public.
The procedures of the panel are laid down in rules made by the Council. The panel has the powers of a High Court judge in relation to the hearing of the matter including the enforcement of attendance, the examination of witnesses and production of documents. It is an offence to fail to attend a panel hearing, produce documents, answer lawful questions or do anything which would be the equivalent of contempt of court.
Members of the public and media can attend public hearings. A calendar of public hearings will be published on the Teaching Council website www.teachingcouncil.ie from time to time. However, details of individuals involved in inquiries will not be published in advance of hearings.
Inquiries that proceed by way of an examination of documents and written submissions, and not as an oral hearing, take place in private.
After considering all of the evidence at the inquiry, the Panel shall deliberate in private session and prepare a report which will contain details of whether the allegation(s) have been found to be proven. The Panel will communicate their decision to the registered teacher, and to the Director of the Teaching Council, either in private sitting or in writing.
The Act does not permit the Panel’s findings to be announced to the public at the immediate conclusion of a public oral hearing. If the Panel decides to dismiss the complaint, the Panel may, on a case by case basis, decide to announce this at the conclusion of a public oral hearing.
Under the Act, it is a matter for the Teaching Council to decide if it is in the public interest to publish the finding, or findings, of the Panel and/or any sanction decided on by the Panel. If the Council decides that it is in the public interest to publish, details will be placed on the Council’s website. The Teaching Council does not comment on individual cases.
Finding of Unfitness
Where a finding of unfitness to practice has been reached by a panel, the disciplinary committee following consideration of the report may
- order the teacher be removed and not be eligible for restoration for a period
- that he shall be suspended,
- that he shall be retained on the register subject to conditions including those regarding attendance of a professional development course.
The decision is communicated to the parties concerned within 21 days. After an inquiry concludes, the Panel will consider whether a sanction should be imposed on the registered teacher.
If it is decided to impose one of the more serious sanctions (i.e. conditions attached to a teacher’s registration, a suspension from the register for a period not exceeding 2 years, or removal from the register), the teacher has 21 days to appeal to the High Court. In the event that the decision is not appealed, the Council will apply to the High Court for confirmation of the decision.
The teacher may apply to the High Court which may confirm or annul the decision. The Council may make an application to the High Court for an order seeking suspension of registration of a teacher. This may be made in a summary manner.
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