Fitness to Teach empowers educators
IRELAND'S teaching profession is about to enter an era of unprecedented transparency and accountability, with the soon-to-be rolled out Fitness to Teach provision.
It brings with it strong powers to inquire into various allegations that may be made against a teacher, such as contravening certain education legislation, professional misconduct, and being medically unfit to teach.
It is important that neither teachers nor parents view Fitness to Teach as paving the way for a witchhunt culture and the creation of an easy platform for individuals to pursue vexatious complaints.
Rather, it is about empowering teachers, through their own professional standards body, to uphold and enhance the quality of teaching and learning in their schools.
Ireland is lucky with the calibre of its teachers, at both primary and post-primary level, a fact acknowledged in surveys that show the level of public confidence that they and their schools enjoy. A recent report by the Department of Education Chief Inspector Harold Hislop found that about nine in 10 parents were happy with teaching in their child's school.
Teachers themselves lobbied for a professional regulatory body, established in the past decade in the form of the Teaching Council.
Now, comes the associated responsibility of addressing the rare cases of serious underperformance, and everyone expects that they will rise to the challenge.