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VIT regulatory decision

Here is a summary of a regulatory decision made by the VIT concerning a registered teacher. All names have been removed.

The allegation

It was alleged that Teacher A had engaged in inappropriate conduct towards students and colleagues. The teacher’s employer conducted an investigation into the allegations and decided to take disciplinary action against the teacher. The employer notified VIT of the disciplinary action it had taken against the registered teacher. This amounts to Category C conduct as defined by the Education and Training Reform Act 2006

The alleged conduct also brought into question Teacher A’s suitability to teach, that is whether their character, reputation and conduct are such that they should be allowed to teach in a school; and whether they were physically and mentally able to teach.

Background

The VIT received the following notification from Education Organisation A: 

Education Organisation A had received a number of allegations against Teacher A alleging that Teacher A had engaged in aggressive behavior towards staff and students. 

Education Organisation A conducted an investigation. During its investigation, Education Organisation A learned that Teacher A

  • used inappropriate language in the presence of students including
    • swearing in the presence of students
    • calling students inappropriate names
  • used inappropriate physical restraint techniques on students including
    • pushing a student to the ground and restraining the student by pushing their arm up behind their back
    • restraining a student by holding them against a wall by the base of the head
  • used inappropriate physical force on students including
    • dragging a student by the legs
    • shoving students
    • physically forcing a student into a different part of the courtyard
    • physically forcing a student into her seat.
  • engaged in aggressive and intimidating behaviour towards their colleagues including
    • yelling abuse
    • using offensive language
    • forcing their way into a locked office to continue a discussion with a colleague (causing physical damage to the door of the office).

As a result of the findings made during the investigation, Education Organisation A decided to terminate Teacher A’s employment. 

Following the investigation, Teacher A made an application for registration as a non-practising teacher with VIT. This form of registration would not permit the teacher to work in a school, but Teacher A could rely on it to engage in other child related work (other than teaching) without the need to obtain a separate Working with Children clearance.

In light of Teacher A’s disciplinary history at School A, VIT requested information and documentation to assist the decision maker in assessing their suitability to teach including

  • a personal reflective statement
  • character references from independent persons who are aware of the alleged conduct and can comment on Teacher A’s character
  • any documentation that confirms whether Teacher A had engaged in psychological treatment and/or counselling since the conduct occurred
  • any documentation that confirms that Teacher A may have engaged in professional development since the conduct occurred.

Following this request, Teacher A requested that VIT rely on the information and documentation that Teacher A had provided to Education Organisation A during its investigation into the allegations made at School A.

VIT considered this information and decided that it intended to refuse Teacher A’s application for registration as a non-practising teacher and served Teacher A with a Notice of Intention to Refuse Registration. This Notice provided Teacher A with detailed information about the proposed decision, and the reasons for the proposed decision. It also provided Teacher A with a further 28 days to provide additional information and documentation to VIT before a final decision was made.

VIT did not receive any further submissions, information or documentation from Teacher A.

The decision

After reviewing Teacher A’s application for registration as a non-practising teacher, VIT considered the available information and decided to refuse the application on the following grounds: 

Teacher A had engaged in category C conduct and their ability to teach in a school is likely to be affected because the conduct they engaged in was serious and systemic; had occurred in the practice of teaching; and involved children who were under their care, supervision and authority.

VIT also refused Teacher A’s registration on the basis that they had engaged in category C conduct and it was not in the public interest to allow Teacher A to teach in a school. This is due to the nature of the conduct, but also that Teacher A failed to demonstrate any insight or remorse for engaging in conduct, and had not sought professional support or professional development opportunities that may assist in addressing their conduct.

In addition, VIT formed the view that Teacher A failed to produce sufficient evidence to mitigate the concerns outlined above and demonstrate that they were suitable to teach.

Reflection

When reflecting on this case, consider the following aspects of the Victorian Teaching Profession Code of Conduct.

Victorian Teaching Profession’s Code of Conduct - Principle 1.1

Teachers provide opportunities for all learners to learn

Teachers demonstrate their commitment to their learners by:

  • maintaining a safe and challenging learning environment
  • communicating effectively and appropriately with learners.
Victorian Teaching Profession’s Code of Conduct - Principle 1.2

Teachers treat their learners with courtesy and dignity, and promote participation and empowerment

Teachers

  • work to create an environment that promotes respect for everyone
  • model and engage in respectful and impartial language and behaviour
  • protect learners from intimidation, embarrassment, humiliation and harm
  • display an understanding of a learner’s individual context and specific vulnerabilities when they interact with them
  • use behaviour management strategies and consequences appropriate for a learner’s individual context and actions, aimed at supporting positive change.
Victorian Teaching Profession’s Code of Conduct - Principle 1.8

Collegiality is an integral part of the work of teachers

Teachers demonstrate collegiality by

  • treating each other with courtesy and respect
  • valuing the input of their colleagues
  • using appropriate forums for constructive debate on professional matters.
Victorian Teaching Profession’s Code of Conduct - Principle 2.1

The personal conduct of a teacher has an impact on the professional standing of that teacher and on the profession as a whole.

Although there is no definitive boundary between the personal and professional conduct of a teacher, teachers reflect community expectations in their personal conduct by

  • being positive role models in education settings, in the community and online
  • being aware of the potentially serious impact that any demonstration of intolerance or prejudice could have on the safety and wellbeing of children, their standing as a teacher or the profession as a whole.
Victorian Teaching Profession’s Code of Conduct – Principle 3.1

Teachers value their professionalism, and set and maintain high standards of competence

Teachers

  • engage in reflective practice and identify professional learning needs
  • are able to demonstrate how their practice meets the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
  • complete their duties in a responsible and thorough manner.
Victorian Teaching Profession’s Code of Conduct – Principle 3.2

Teachers are aware of, and comply with, the legal requirements that pertain to their profession

Teachers must comply with the requirements of

  • the principle of negligence, which includes duty of care
  • laws preventing discrimination and harassment.

Teachers should be aware of

  • child safe standards
  • reportable conduct
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Any other relevant legislation, policies or regulations that pertain to the role of a teacher in child safety and wellbeing.

When reflecting on this case, consider the following aspects of the Victorian Teaching Profession Code of Ethics.

Integrity

We demonstrate our integrity by

  • acting in the best interests of learners
  • maintaining a professional relationship with learners and colleagues
  • behaving in ways that respect and advance the profession.
Respect

We demonstrate our respect by

  • acting with care and compassion
  • treating learners fairly and impartially
  • holding our colleagues in high regard.
Responsibility

We demonstrate our responsibility by

  • providing quality teaching
  • maintaining and developing our professional practice
  • working cooperatively with colleagues in the best interest of our learners.