Hayden Llewellyn, Chief Executive of the Education Workforce Council (EWC) explains why we should have our say on the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice for education practitioners
We all put our trust in the education system in Wales and those who work in it at some point in our lives. This will invariably be as a learner but it could also be as a parent, guardian or carer.
It is therefore reasonable for us to know a bit about the people who work in our schools, colleges and other educational settings. Do they have the necessary qualifications, is their conduct and performance good enough?
In Wales, anybody working as a teacher or in a learning support role in a maintained school or further education college must be registered with the Education Workforce Council (EWC). The same also applies to work based learning practitioners and qualified youth and youth support workers. In fact the EWC’s Register of Education Practitioners in Wales is the biggest public Register of any profession in Wales and the widest of its type in the world.
One of the requirements of our 80,000+ registrants is that they must adhere to the Code of Professional Conduct and Practice . The Code sets out the standards expected of them and is intended to help and guide their behaviours and judgements, both inside and outside of work. However, the Code also has an important role for learners and the public as it outlines what they can expect of anybody working in a teaching and learning role in Wales.
Codes of conduct and practice are common in other professions. Doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, solicitors, social workers and a host of others all have them. If you have never looked at them, you really should. Go on the web and take a look. It may make you think next time you go to see your GP or use a solicitor to help you sell your house.
Any registrant that fails to comply with the Code can be investigated by the EWC, as we have legal powers to investigate and hear cases of alleged unacceptable professional conduct, serious professional incompetence and criminal offences involving our registrants. The number of cases we deal with is small, but readers will have still seen press headlines about our work like “Headteacher stole thousands from school”, “Teacher changed pupils’ marks” and “FE lecturer hit student”.
While no code or set of guidelines can ever encompass every situation or replace insight and professional judgement, they do help. Under Welsh Assembly legislation, the EWC must review its Code every three years. We have opened a public consultation to help us review and update the existing Code. It will run until 14 December.
If you are a learner, parent, guardian, carer or interested member of the public, we would really like to hear your views on what should be included in the Code. We already have plans to engage our registrants in updating the Code and ensuring that it reflects what they do and how they do it. You can respond on our website where you will also find more information. We would like to hear from as many people as possible.