Teaching CouncilThe Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn, plans to shortly amend legislation to give extra powers to the Teaching Council to deal with what is referred to as “poor and under-performing teachers”. At present, a teacher has to be deemed “unfit to teach” before the Teaching Council can impose any sanctions. The range of sanctions currently available to the Council are:

(a) Removal from the register for a specified period

(b) Suspension from the register up to 2 years

(c) Retained on the register subject to all or any of the following conditions:

· that the teacher seek the assistance of a service relating to teacher health and welfare

· that the teacher attend a specified professional development course

· such other conditions as the Disciplinary Committee thinks fit.

The minister now proposes to add a further sanction of advice, admonishment, or a censure in writing to the above range of sanctions available to the Teaching Council. Commenting on the new proposals, Minister Quinn said:

“The new sanctions available to the Teaching Council are more in line with those available to other professional regulators such as the Medical Council or An Bord Altranais. The operation by the Council of robust fitness to teach procedures is important for the public and teachers so that they have full confidence in the teaching profession. This is a further positive step in the full professionalisation of teaching.

The vast majority of teachers in our classrooms perform well. But for the small minority who do not, I believe that the Teaching Council will now have at its disposal the right tools to deal with cases of serious misconduct and to improve and assist poorly performing teachers.

I also believe that these new powers to investigate allegations of misconduct and underperformance will mean that parents have a method of having genuine complaints about teaching standards investigated.”