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About the Code of Ethics

Please note that the Code of Ethics will be replaced by Our Code, Our Standards once these are adopted on 1July 2017. For more information on the Code and Standards, visit the Code and Standards section

The Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers exists to:

  • promote the ethics of the profession
  • inspire the quality of behaviour that reflects the honour and dignity of the profession
  • encourage and emphasise those positive attributes of professional conduct that
  • characterise strong and effective teaching
  • enable members of the profession to appraise and reflect on their ethical decisions.

Read or download the Code of Ethics:

Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers (English)
Ngā Tikanga Matatika (Māori)

Why a Code of Ethics?

The public expects teachers in schools and early childhood centres to treat people fairly, respect their autonomy, exercise responsible care towards those they teach, and be truthful not only in what they say but also in what they teach.

The Code of Ethics applies to certificated teachers, as well as those who are granted a Limited Authority to Teach and is a public statement by the profession of its common ethical principles, and how those principles are to be applied to promote the highest standards of professional service. The principles are intended to educate, motivate and inspire members of the profession. At the same time, the Code is also a statement to learners, parents, whānau and the wider public about what may be expected of all certificated teachers in their professional roles. It should be recognised that high ethical standards are most fully achieved by practitioners when those standards are also observed by employers, parents, students and community.

Putting the Code into practice

The Code isn't a set of rules that must be followed. It is a set of principles that should be applied to situations, with careful reflection. Teachers should use the Code as a guide to help them make ethical decisions, recognising questions of ethics may not always have straightforward answers. 

Inspiring good practice

This Code is intended to be inspirational. Like other professional codes, it may also be used to challenge the ethical behaviour of a teacher and could provide grounds for complaint if a teacher's practice falls seriously short.

Where other sector specific codes covering practising teachers exist, the Education Council Code of Ethics is the overarching document. It is important that any other codes developed should complement this document rather than be in conflict with it.

The Code should be treated as a living document with wide application in professional practice. Its use should not be limited to dealing with difficult issues. It should be treated as an educational tool, to help the profession to define and redefine its values, and assist individual practitioners to be constantly aware of ethical tensions in teaching, and help them develop principled ways to resolve issues. This process should begin with student teachers and continue throughout professional life.

Related information

Ethical Decision Making
Background to the development of the Code of Ethics
Teachers and Social Media website