| 11.1°C Dublin

Teachers to get new rules on Facebook

TEACHERS are to be given guidelines on using social networking sites and sending text messages to pupils.

The code of professional conduct for teachers has been reviewed to reflect the modern classroom.

The draft amendments come after a 61-year-old teacher who sent 218 "highly inappropriate" messages to a 15-year-old student was jailed for three years this week.

The new code of conduct for teachers is set to go out for consultation before it is put in place.

It is expected to give more detailed instructions to teachers about their behaviour in work and their teaching standards.

The current code, which came into effect in 2007, makes no mention of the use of social networking sites or text messages.

"Recognising the unique and privileged relationships that exist between teachers and the students entrusted to their care, teachers should conduct these relationships in a way that is professional, respectful and appropriate," the current code states.


The new code is expected to include a more specific set of rules concerning a teacher's conduct.

"Teachers are required to ensure that any communication with pupils/students, colleagues, parents, school management and other is appropriate, including communication via electronic media, such as email, texting and social networking sites," the draft code reads.

While the new version of the code is still subject to change, certain aspects will certainly be mentioned in the final version. This includes a reference to inappropriate images or materials.

A teacher who accesses, downloads or has in their possession such material will be in breach of the new standards.

However, the Teaching Council will still have no legal powers to investigate any complaint made against one of the 70,000 primary and second-level teachers.

It will not be able to strike a teacher off its register, according to a report seen by the Irish Examiner.