Wednesday 21 February 2018

Three teachers refused registration after they failed garda vetting

Teaching Council director Tomás O'Ruairc
Teaching Council director Tomás O'Ruairc
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Three teachers have been refused registration with their professional standards body because of an issue that came to light when they went through the garda vetting process.

If a teacher is not registered with the Teaching Council, it means that he or she is banned from working in a state-funded position.

Vetting for individuals who have regular access to children and vulnerable persons, including teachers, is mandatory, and is conducted by the Garda National Vetting Bureau

In the case of teachers, any disclosure that emerges during the vetting is assessed by The Teaching Council, which decides whether the person is suitable for registration. 

The number of refusals is very small compared with the 60,000 teachers who have come through the process successfully - about two in three of all teachers in the country.

Since it was introduced for the profession in 2006, vetting has been done on a phased basis, with the focus on new teachers and teachers who moved schools.

A new round of vetting, which is about to get underway, will cover the remaining 32,000 teachers, typically staff have been in the same school since before 2006.

The Teaching Council will issue letters to teachers in this group on a phased basis, and they will be required to go through the process between now and the end of the year.

Teaching Council director Tomás Ó Ruairc said it was vitally important that all registered teachers were vetted in order to ensure continuing public confidence and trust in the profession.

The Garda Vetting Bureau checks out details of any criminal convictions or pending prosecutions, as well as any “soft information’ that may that may be relevant when considering whether an individual poses a threat in schools.

The “soft information” could be a finding or allegation of harm against another person, which has been investigated by the gardai, the child and family agency, Tusla, the Health Services Executive (HSE) or another organisation, but did not lead to a prosecution.

When the process is complete, the bureau provides a vetting disclosure outlining any relevant details, and Teaching Council’s Evidence of Character Panel conducts an assessment to determine suitability for registration.

Because the focus of the vetting is to protect children and vulnerable people, disclosures may emerge in the information-gathering process that do not affect a teacher’s suitability for registration.

The Teaching Council takes into account the nature and seriousness of any offence and the age and circumstances of the applicant at the time it was committed. Particular note is taken of offences of a sexual, violent, dishonest or drug related nature

Teachers who are refused registration as a result of  vetting process have a right to appeal. 

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