Ethical Standards for Teachers

ADEC is the Abu Dhabi Education Council. It supervises education for all schools in Abu Dhabi, including private schools. The Council has produced an informative guide for private schools, which you can find on the website.

Today I want to share with you the Ethical Standards for teachers. Before I read these standards I was skeptical. I have experience working in a broad variety of schools and there always seemed to be some distance between the words in this kind of policy statement and practice on the ground. I was expecting something wordy and impractical.

These standards are quite the reverse. There is nothing here that you cannot understand and each of the twelve principles is well-supported by examples that explain what is meant. They start with the first Standard- respect for Islam- which is important to the overall ethical consideration of the country’s educational policy. You cannot read the guidance without being aware that ethical behavior in education is of the highest importance for ADEC.

I felt a great sense of relief when I read these standards. And that sensation was the more when I go to the end and read the prohibition on “engaging in conversation with students about sensitive issues – such as religion and politics – that do not serve any clear educational purpose and are not related to the School’s approved curriculum.” How much time-wasting and hand-wringing could be saved in school’s in the West, if that principle was adhered to!

Read the standards and let me know what you think.

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Standard 1 – Religion, culture, society’s customs and traditions: Educators will respect the Religion of Islam, respect the Arabic culture and UAE society’s values, morals, customs, and traditions.

Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Showing reverence to Islamic values and practices and respecting other religions.
  • Complying with all principles imposed by the Islamic religion in the UAE.
  • Respecting UAE society’s values, morals, customs and traditions.
  • Respecting the national symbols of the UAE.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Behaving in a manner that is contrary to Islamic values in the classroom or other workplace.
  • Exhibiting disrespect toward UAE society’s values, morals, customs and tradition.

Standard 2 – Tolerance and respect for diverse cultures: Educators will foster an atmosphere of tolerance in Schools and the workplace. Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Exhibiting tolerance and respect to individuals of different religious, ethnic or cultural backgrounds.
  • Taking all necessary procedures to ensure that classrooms and other workplaces are free from all forms of harassment and discrimination.
  • Treating all students and colleagues equitably, including those with special needs.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Discriminating against or harassing colleagues or members of the public on the grounds of religion, race, origin, social status, age, gender or against pregnant employees or those with a newborn.
  • Discriminating against or harassing students, on the grounds of religion, race, origin, social status, age or gender.
  • Engaging in conduct that represents any kind of extremism or cultural indoctrination.

Standard 3 –Dress code: Educators will dress appropriately in a manner consistent with official work attire and which does not contradict with UAE society’s values, morals, customs and traditions. Professional conduct includes, for example:

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  • UAE nationals observing the appropriate national dress.
  • Expatriates dress in a professional manner reflecting proper work attire.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Wearing any clothing that is tight-fitting or revealing or unsuitable for the work environment.

Standard 4 – Relationship with students: Educators will maintain a caring, professional relationship with all students, both inside and outside the classroom.

Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Educators behaving in ways that promote the welfare of the students and which affords them the necessary care, and taking all actions within their power to ensure students’ safety.
  • Educators reporting to relevant authorities if they suspect that a student is being harmed or may possibly be harmed.
  • Educators working to meet the individual learning needs of all students and assisting them to achieve their potential and to develop their self-confidence.
  • Educators striving to create a safe and supportive emotional environment for students to learn and enjoy learning; one that is conducive to their knowledge, values and abilities and does not cause intimidation or embarrassment.
  • Educators striving to be fair and objective when dealing with students.
  • Educators promoting student health through the support of School health services and the facilitation of School health programs and initiatives implemented in the School by the School nurse, the Council, or other government entities (e.g. National Immunisation Program managed by HAAD), as approved by the Council.
  • Educators being aware of, and complying fully with, all of the Council’s regulations, policies and requirements related to student protection, health, care and welfare.

Prohibited Unprofessional Conduct includes for example:

  • Engaging in or encouraging inappropriate relationships with students inside or outside of the classroom, including any behaviour constituting sexual harassment or abuse.
  • Sending any inappropriate messages, pictures or other communication to students inside or outside of the classroom.
  • Using any form of discipline that involves corporal punishment, emotional or verbal abuse, or any punishment that may cause physical or emotional harm to students (e.g. ridiculing a student’s point of view).
  • Failure to discipline on-going bullying of a student (including cyber-bullying), which may result in physical or emotional harm to the student (see Policy (65)).
  • Behaving negligently or making decisions which endanger student welfare.
  • Using professional relationships with students for personal gain (e.g. private tutoring for students that are concurrently being taught by the teacher, asking for favours from the student’s Parents/Guardians, etc.).
  • Leniency in student grading, in a manner not consistent with the educational process.

Standard 5 – Relationship with community: Educators will respect and cooperate with Parents / Guardians and the local community in their daily work to advance student learning.

Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Establishing open, honest and respectful relationships with Parents/Guardians and the local community.
  • Involving Parents/Guardians and the community in the decision-making process relating to students education and wellbeing.
  • Communicating all decisions relating to students’ learning clearly and promptly to students, Parents/Guardians and stakeholders in the community.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Disregarding the views and concerns of Parents/Guardians and the School community when making decisions about student learning.
  • Behaving in a rude or hostile manner when interacting with Parents/Guardians and the community.

Standard 6 – Relationships with colleagues: Educators shall follow direction from direct supervisors and commit to collaborating with their colleagues in the best interest of students and the education profession.

Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Complying with all official instructions and decisions from their direct supervisors and from the relevant Council authorities.
  • Encouraging and supporting colleagues to adopt and adhere to high professional standards.
  • Collaborating with other Educators in a way that develops a positive, supportive professional environment for all.
  • Assisting in the preparation and induction of new Educators through mentorship and guidance.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Harassing a colleague verbally or physically, including any inappropriate behaviour that makes a colleague feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
  • Spreading false statements or slandering the reputation of a colleague.
  • Revealing confidential information concerning a colleague.
  • Intentionally excluding a colleague from work-related or professional activities or work-related information.
  • Preventing colleagues from carrying out their official duties.

Standard 7 – Communications: Educators will ensure that all interactions and communications with colleagues, students, Parents / Guardians and the public reflect the values of respect, wisdom, and integrity.

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Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Ensuring that any public comments they make reflect the policies and priorities of their School and of the Council.
  • Ensuring that usage of the Council communication systems (e.g. computers, phones, emails, eSIS) does not include any communication that may be controversial or offensive.
  • Maintaining the confidentiality of information relating to students and colleagues unless disclosure is officially permitted and serves clear and specific professional purposes.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Making comments or statements, in an official or unofficial capacity, that disparage the reputation of the Council, the School or colleagues.
  • Sharing confidential or sensitive information with any party, inside or outside of their School, who is not authorised to have the information.

Standard 8 – Legal obligations: Educators will abide by government laws and regulations at all times and will be obligated to report violations of these laws to relevant authorities.

Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Maintaining honesty and integrity while conducting work.
  • Being aware of, understanding and adhering to the provisions of legislation, laws and policies relevant to their work.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Falsifying or misrepresenting professional qualifications or employment history.
  • Wilfully disobeying or disregarding any applicable laws.

Standard 9 – Alcohol, drugs and tobacco: Educators will refrain from using, possessing, and being under the influence of alcohol and illegal drugs, and will not smoke in the workplace.

Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Abiding by government laws with respect to the substances stated above at all times.
  • Refraining from providing alcohol or other drugs to students, or from encouraging students to consume them, or from disregarding students’ use.
  • School nurses supervising the administration of prescribed medications to students, and ensuring compliance with the Council’s guidelines.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Consuming or being intoxicated by alcohol or other drugs while performing duties.
  • Smoking in School buildings and/or on the Council’s premises.
  • Encouraging students to use alcohol, tobacco or unauthorised drugs at any time.

Standard 10 – Use of resources: Educators will use property and resources provided for their work efficiently and only for official/work-related purposes.

Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Complying with the Council’s Information Security Policy relating to acceptable use of technology.
  • Optimal usage of Council and School resources for work purposes to the extent necessary to carry out the assigned work.
  • Maintaining assets and possessions entrusted to them (because of their work), and ensuring they are used wisely and responsibly.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Taking advantage of public or work-related resources for personal benefit (such as checking personal email) or for achieving personal gains or goals.
  • Spending the Council’s or the School’s financial resources in a reckless or wasteful manner.

Standard 11 – Conflicts of interest: Educators will avoid any situation that represents or may be perceived to represent a conflict of interest in carrying out their professional responsibilities and tasks.

Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Carrying out all responsibilities and taking all decisions in an objective and impartial manner.
  • Maintaining integrity and not accepting any bribes (gratuity), gifts, money or services that might impair or influence professional decisions.
  • Refraining from using their position for personal gains.
  • Reporting a potential conflict of interest to supervisors, and recusing themselves from situations giving rise to perceived conflict of interest.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Involvement in any decisions in which family or friends may benefit.
  • Accepting gifts from suppliers or local community members or gifts that may be given in an attempt to influence official work, other than those of nominal value (in most cases, a gift valued at over AED 100 will not be considered to be of nominal value).
  • Using School time to conduct non-School business.

Standard 12 – Sensitive issues: Educators will not make remarks regarding sensitive issues that could cause anger or discomfort among students, colleagues or the community.

Professional conduct includes, for example:

  • Ensuring that classroom discussions are focused on the subject being taught.
  • Being careful when making comments (particularly in relation to potentially controversial matters, such as religion or politics).
  • Preventing students from raising potentially controversial matters for group discussions.

Prohibited unprofessional conduct includes, for example:

  • Engaging in conversation with students about sensitive issues – such as religion and politics – that do not serve any clear educational purpose and are not related to the School’s approved curriculum.

In cases such Professional Code of Ethics is violated, the School will impose appropriate sanctions in accordance to the Council’s regulations, policies and requirements. The sanctions imposed depend on the severity of the violation and the relevant staff’s behavioural history.

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Published by Jason Preater

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