Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Teachers to get 'role model' code

Hand writing
Teachers' behaviour outside of school will also be under scrutiny

Teachers in England will have to act as "role models" both in and out of school under a proposed new code of conduct.

They could face losing their status if they get drunk and into arguments while out socialising, or do not get help for drink or drug problems.

The draft code has been published by the General Teaching Council for England (GTCE).

GTCE chief executive Keith Bartley said the code set out to teachers that they had to consider their place in society.

'Responsible profession'

Sarah Stephens, director of policy for the GTCE, said: "What it means is to act as a role model, holding the bar for children in terms of your own conduct outside the classroom."

Teachers are human beings. Their private lives should not be the subject of scrutiny by anybody
Keeves, Horsham, UK

The document says teachers should "uphold the law and maintain standards of behaviour both inside and outside school that are appropriate given their membership of an important and responsible profession".

The GTCE said the behaviour of teachers could still be inappropriate even if it did not involve doing something illegal.

GTCE head of professional regulation David James said: "You might have an incident in a pub, someone has had too much to drink and there's been some pushing and shoving.

"It hasn't resulted in a criminal offence, but we would look at it in great detail. It is not something we would want teachers to do, but professionally would it have an impact on their registration status?"

On alcohol or substance abuse, he said: "We have the ability to impose restrictions on registration, ways you can remain as a teacher, but you must undertake some training, or counselling or you must give us a medical report."

'Slippery slope'

Teachers could also be disciplined if they fail to pass on suspicions about child abuse.

The code says they should "take all reasonable steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people under their supervision; endeavour to pick up on and address issues that impact adversely on them at the earliest possible stage".

The GTCE is conducting a consultation on the document until February.

Nansi Ellis, head of education policy at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, voiced concern about the code.

She said: "We urge the GTCE to tread carefully with its proposed code of conduct for teachers.

"It is treading a potentially slippery slope if it creates a code of practice which covers teachers' behaviour in their private lives."

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said teachers were already aware that serious misconduct would lead to disciplinary action.

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