20 May 2023
By Elaine Murphy
There are currently over 118,000 teachers registered with the Teaching Council which is the professional standards body for the teaching profession. The Teaching Council promotes and regulates professional standards in teaching and acts in the interests of the public good.
Schools are now required to notify and to provide information to the Teaching Council of dismissals, and in certain circumstances of resignations of teachers. For resignations, the circumstances where this is necessary are where the resignation follows upon the making of a complaint or invoking of a disciplinary procedure.
The making of these regulations augments the Council’s existing regulatory functions. It obliges employers by law to provide information to the Teaching Council if a teacher is dismissed or resigns following a complaint being made or a disciplinary process being invoked at school or Education and Training Board level.
The Teaching Council has made regulations under section 37 of the Teaching Council Act, 2001 as amended.
On 11 May 2023, the Minister for Education consented to the making of these regulations, which are entitled Teaching Council (Information to be Furnished by Employer in Case of Dismissal or Resignation of Registered Teacher) Regulations 2023. These regulations set out the responsibility and obligation of employers, to provide particular information to the Teaching Council where a registered teacher –
Resigns and that resignation follows upon:
i. The making of a complaint in relation to that teacher (note – this is a complaint made at local school level rather than to the Teaching Council),
ii. The invoking of procedures under section 24 of the Education Act 1998 (No. 51 of 1998), or such other procedures as may be invoked, in respect of the teacher,
Is dismissed by his or her employer.
The full wording and the information to be provided to the Teaching Council is set out in the regulations.
The Teaching Council’s overall Fitness to Teach processes are provided for in law, under which the Council is required to investigate complaints made in relation to registered teachers.
The Teaching Council’s complaint and inquiry process is separate to procedures used by schools at a local level. Schools / employers of registered teachers will continue to deal with issues as they arise locally, where it is generally accepted that there is the best likelihood of an early resolution.
Where a teacher is dismissed, or resigns following from the making of a complaint or invoking of a disciplinary process at school level, the employer (for example the board of management, the school patron body or the Chief Executive of Education and Training Boards) must now inform the Teaching Council of this occurrence and provide relevant information. It will then be a matter for the Teaching Council to decide whether or not any further action is necessary from a regulatory perspective.
In general, the Teaching Council does not consider a complaint about a teacher unless a school’s disciplinary procedures have first been concluded, or unless there are ‘good and sufficient’ reasons to do so. The Minister consenting to the section 37 regulations ensures that the dismissal or resignation of a registered teacher resulting from a complaint or an in-school disciplinary process, will be made known to the Teaching Council, irrespective of whether or not a complaint has been made separately to the Council in that matter.
Michelle Keane, Chair of the Teaching Council said, “The Teaching Council legislation requires the Teaching Council to investigate complaints, and there are well-defined processes in place to meet that requirement. The legislation envisages that employers should notify the Teaching Council of dismissals or resignations of a registered teacher following upon the making of a complaint or invoking of a disciplinary process. We are now bringing this important consideration into effect within the overall regulatory role of the Teaching Council.”
Dr Lynn Ramsey, Director of the Teaching Council said, “The Teaching Council supports the highest standards of professionalism and competence in teaching while also acknowledging and promoting the critically important role of teachers in society. The teaching profession contributes to the development of a strong and vibrant education system in Ireland that benefits our young people, our communities, and the economy. In so far as possible, we will support schools, employers and teachers with information and guidance around this newly commenced regulation.”
Information will be provided to each school, Education and Training Board and registered teacher about the Teaching Council (Information to be Furnished by Employer in Case of Dismissal or Resignation of Registered Teacher) Regulations 2023.
Detailed information about the Council’s Fitness to Teach role can be found in the Fitness to Teach section of the Council’s website www.teachingcouncil.ie.