15 Apr 2017

Unions raise concerns about teacher-student ethical code

1:13 pm on 15 April 2017

Teachers who offer counsel, friendship or act in a parental role for students would breach ethical boundaries under a proposed code of conduct, raising concerns with unions.

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Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Post Primary Teachers Association president Jack Boyle raised his concerns about the draft code of conduct governing teacher-student relations put out by the Education Council.

The council is calling for submissions on the draft Code of Professional Responsibility and Standards.

Under the proposed code, a teacher acting as a counsellor or friend to a student, or taking on a kind of parental role, could be found to have breached the boundaries of ethical and professional relationships.

Mr Boyle said individual teachers have different ways of engaging and motivating students, and international evidence suggests the nature of the teacher-learner relationship has the most significant impact.

"If you've got a teacher who is now feeling like 'ooh, perhaps I've been too much of a social worker, perhaps I've been straying into that parental realm int he way that I'm engaging with these young people in the class and I shouldn't be doing that', then does that also take away from what was powerful about their way of meeting those young people."

Mr Boyle said teachers could also develop anxiety about whether their practices met the terms of the code.

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