Society is governed by codes - everywhere we go, every community we visit will have its unique set of implicitly agreed upon ways of behaving and doing. The professions that service our society are the same - lawyers, doctors, accountants and engineers all make public their commitment to the highest of standards, the highest of ethics.
The teaching profession is unique in in that we reach probably the largest proportion of society - children and young people. We are also the largest profession in New Zealand. Ours is one that touches minds as well as hearts. We are a vocation and a profession.
We hold a privileged position in society. But while the public should, rightly, vest its interest in our professional standards and ways of behaving, it is up to us to define and demonstrate the high expectations we have of ourselves.
So right now we have the opportunity to review, reappraise and redefine our own professional standards and behaviours. You now have a chance to have a say on a draft Code of Professional Responsibility and draft Standards for the Teaching Profession - combined in Our Code, Our Standards - a consultation document.
The last time our behaviours were reviewed was 15 years ago when the Code of Ethics was created. This has served our profession well, but 15 years is a long time in teaching and things have moved on considerably. The development and integration of social media into our everyday lives, the application of digital technologies, the reinterpretation of family, gender, culture, ethnicity - must all be reflected in our professional practice. We simply cannot stand still - we must mirror society while at the same time showing leadership.
This is why I’m excited by the huge opportunity we have before us to build on what was created in the Code of Ethics and update it so we have our own code of professional responsibility.
This is our opportunity to demonstrate we hold our profession to the highest of standards and the utmost integrity.
From a practical perspective what is proposed will, I believe, really help you in your practice. The draft Standards for the Teaching Profession, for instance, are more relevant and easier to apply because we’ve refined them down from 12 to six, and contemporised the language.
The draft Code of Professional Responsibility gives guidance using real life examples in everyday language because it was drafted in consultation and collaboration with the profession. We held three surveys and numerous workshops to get these drafts to the point they are now.
We’re very pleased to be able to present these to you now for appraisal and feedback. This is a profound opportunity to have real impact in your profession now and in the future. In view - the path we’ve built together towards a modern 21st teaching workforce.