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Code of Conduct: information for employers


last updated:11 Aug 2010

The revised Code of Conduct and Practice for Registered Teachers came into effect on 1 October 2009. All disciplinary casework referred to the GTC on or after that date is assessed with regard to the provisions of the revised Code.

The new Code makes a powerful positive statement about contemporary teaching. It shows how teachers encourage learning and how they work with colleagues, other professionals and parents. Instead of describing the unacceptable, it sets out a shared picture of teacher professionalism.

The eight principles of the Code cover familiar ground. There are strong similarities with other professional Codes and with the statements that schools use to describe how they will support children and work with parents and the local community. There is a firm and clear commitment to equality, to working as part of the whole school community, and to honesty and integrity.

The Code gives examples, against each of the eight principles, of where the GTC has taken action in the past and may need to do so in the future. In common with most Codes, the GTC’s Code is not an exhaustive catalogue of the behaviours which could lead to action on teacher registration. 

The Code and regulation
The GTC is the professional and regulatory body for teaching. Registration is a requirement for all qualified teachers wishing to teach in maintained schools, non maintained special schools, pupil referral units and most academies in England. Provisional registration is now also required of trainees who started training programmes from September 2008, and of overseas trained teachers and instructors. The provisions of the Code which relate to competence do not apply to trainee teachers, as they have not yet attained qualified teacher status. 

The Code also applies to judgments made in relation to a teacher’s suitability to register at the application stage.

The Code does not seek to lower the bar for disciplinary action, compared to its predecessor. On the contrary, it seeks continuity with the basis on which disciplinary action has been taken by the Council over the last eight years. 

The Code and contracts
Some employers have asked whether the Code becomes a term of teachers’ contracts of employment.  Unless the Code is explicitly recognised as such locally, there is no basis for reaching this conclusion. The Code is not produced by a body which has jurisdiction over teachers’ employment contracts and has not been written with this in mind. It follows that the Code is not intended as a disciplinary tool for use by schools or employers generally. Because, however, there is a reasonable expectation of compatibility between the standards of conduct expected by an employer and those expected by the GTC, we have suggested that  employers may wish to review any Codes of conduct they may have in the light of the GTC’s document, with appropriate consultation with employees. However, any disciplinary conclusions reached by employers would be made quite properly on the basis of their own judgments and not by reference to the GTC’s Code.

Behaviour outside the workplace
The Code does not seek to set new standards for teachers’ private behaviour. However, it does reiterate the well established principle, present in the previous version of the Code and the Codes of other professional bodies, that some behaviours outside the workplace have the potential to impact upon the credibility of the individual to undertake their role and, more widely, to damage the reputation of the profession. Employers will recognise this principle in their own context and that certain behaviour by employees, which may be either unlawful or lawful, within or beyond the workplace, could undermine the position of the individual and the employer.