How bad teachers now face being struck off
Poor teachers face being struck off as disciplinary hearings are introduced for the first time in this country.
The inquiries, similar to those conducted for doctors and nurses, will investigate cases of underperformance and serious misconduct.
Up to 30 teachers a year are expected to face disciplinary hearings, which will be held in public and are set to get under way in a matter of months.
Parents and, in some cases, pupils may be called as witnesses - although children's evidence will be given in private.
The hearings were envisaged in legislation that led to the establishment of the Teaching Council a decade ago.
However, the legal order giving effect to this provision comes into effect today, after being signed off by Education Minister Richard Bruton.
Hearings will be conducted by a panel appointed by the Teaching Council, which is the professional standards body.
Teachers have to be registered with this body in order to work in State-funded positions. There are about 91,000 currently on the register.
In extreme cases, teachers may be "struck off" the professional register, losing their licence to work in a State-funded position in Ireland.
The disciplinary panel may also apply lesser penalties, such as suspension, admonishment or an offer of support to improve performance.
Mr Bruton said the process would affirm confidence in the teaching profession in the long run. Writing in the Irish Independent today, Teaching Council director Tomás Ó Ruairc says: "Teaching impacts on the lives of every single person in our society in a way that no other profession does.
"That's why professional standards matter so much and why it's vital that a formal mechanism exists to allow for the investigation of complaints."
Experience in Scotland and Wales suggests that about 1pc of teachers are subject to complaints in any one year.