Union: teaching code too vague and open to abuse

A new code of conduct for teachers is so vaguely written that it could unjustly intrude into a teacher’s private life and should be scrapped, a union has warned.

The new code, which comes into force in October, has been accused of being “open to wide interpretation and abuse” by the NASUWT teachers union.

The union’s concerns mirror those of Christian groups who said a previous draft of the code could lead to Christians being disciplined because of their faith.

The NASUWT’s General Secretary, Chris Keates, said: “The new Code of Conduct and Practice is riddled with vague statements that are open to wide interpretation and abuse, putting teachers’ jobs and careers at risk.”

Keith Bartley, Chief Executive of the GTCE, denied the code was too intrusive.

“It is a well-established principle that individuals have a duty to uphold the reputation of their chosen profession [but] we are absolutely explicit that the code does not in any way intrude into teachers’ private lives.”

“Personal misconduct outside school would only be drawn to the GTC’s attention if the alleged behaviour were serious enough to warrant dismissal.”

The Christian Institute previously raised concerns about the loose wording over ‘equality and diversity’ causing problems for Christian teachers.

The Church of England, The Catholic Education Service and the Association of Christian Teachers raised similar concerns.

A leading employment lawyer said the draft clauses risked imposing a “test of professional commitment to secularism”.

John Bowers QC, editor of a top employment law textbook, said the draft code did not do enough to safeguard the religious liberty of Christian teachers.

Mr Bowers said there was a risk “that teachers may consider that the new code requires them to promote actively (rather than merely present neutrally) a set of beliefs which is not consistent with their own.”

The GTCE altered the wording of the code in July to allay the concerns of Christian teachers.

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