“Bringing the profession into disrepute”

Somewhat late on in the consultation (over 3 weeks into 12), news has come out about the General Teaching Council for England‘s (GTCE) consultation into a new revised mandatory Code of Conduct for school teachers in England

The purpose of the Code seems to be to set a basic standard and *ethos* for the teaching profession. This revision is fairly heavy, with a big change being the intent to mold teachers into being ‘model role models for children & young people’. The mainstream media caught onto the news over concerns that that last bit could impact excessively on the private lives and affairs of teachers. While the papers and BBC focus on teachers conduct in public social situation (such as at the pub), my concern is the potential for a widely drawn ‘moral code’ with emphasise on ‘the respectability of the profession’ to become a tool for antisexualist and related normatising oppression, as past and recent history have shown.

Looking at the draft guidelines, they are sadly decidedly vague and open to widely varying interpretations at best. But then that seems to be the trend with any restrictions from government these days.

The key problem area seems to clause 8;

8. Demonstrate high standards of honesty and integrity and uphold public trust and confidence in the teaching profession

Registered 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.

8. Demonstrate high standards of honesty and integrity and uphold public trust and confidence in the teaching profession

The GTCE may take action against teachers who fail to maintain appropriate standards of honesty and integrity or undermine public trust and confidence in the profession. …

Clause 8 doesn’t try to discern between reasonable negative responses by the public (and media) and unreasonable ones (such as the support for Section 28). Also, by citing ‘respect the law’ in such an extremely unquestioning manner they are not only playing along with a national government which is criminalising ethical harmless fun and self-expression (amongst other stuff like democratic protest), but also could end up projecting (even more so) a terribly corrosive unthinking authoritarian ‘just do as you are told, don’t question it’ mindset to pupils.

Further, this is on top of the fact the GTCE already get automatically notified of ALL criminal convictions (including cautions), which combined with the creeping criminalisation of consensual bodily pleasures and the pernicious gossip-heeding Criminal Records Bureaux checks is essentially acting to ‘cleanse’ child and caring related professions of people with “deviant” sexualities, sensualities or genders. I note this ironically violates the GTCE’s commitment within the draft Code to equality and diversity. …Although of course, i cynically expect the old line of “oh, we didn’t mean equality for
you, just normal people”
to be used here. >_<

Putting aside ethical behaviour which is already criminalised, I would guess off the top of my head the Code if implemented as it currently stands could be used to attack teachers who are; kinksters, swingers, polyamorous, sluts, cross-dressers, public sex-positive etc activists, or visit sex workers (not illegal yet!). Normative monogamous vanilla non-activist LGBs and transsexed people would probably be sufficiently protected from prejudiced use of the Code by current equality legislation.

Certainly there is nothing specifically aggressive in the Code’s current form, but there is worrying potential for misuse against Sexual & Gender Diverse teachers (and populus in general).

• • • • • •

You can get copies of the code (PDF) and answer an anonymous ‘leading questions’ survey on it here. Although I would suggest, if you can, sending them a personal response focusing on the particular concerns about sex, gender variance, and kink either instead of or in addition to their survey.

The consultation closes on Friday 27 February 09.

Contact details:

  • General Teaching Council for England, Whittington House, 19-30 Alfred Place, London, WC1E 7EA
  • code@gtce.org.uk

Anyone else’s interpretations of the draft and possible prejudicial use of it would of course be welcome. 🙂

• • • • • •

tl;dr

A proposed Code of Conduct for teachers in England which desires to make them role models for pupils and force them to follow society’s morals, even in their private lives, runs the risk of becoming a tool for ‘SexoGenderal Cleansing’.

[Addition edits on 20/12, for clarity and due to clear up sleepytyping vagueness]

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