Teachers behaving badly: Spike in misconduct during pandemic

 

Accusations of serious misconduct against Queensland teachers skyrocketed during the pandemic last year, with the state's regulatory body reporting a startling increase in disciplinary complaints.

Queensland College of Teachers' annual report released last week revealed 865 official disciplinary matters were received in 2020 - an increase of more than 60 per cent on the previous year.

Alarmingly, notifications from employers regarding allegations of harm or potential harm to children by teachers almost doubled, up from 328 in 2019 to 610 last year.

Another nine teachers were sacked due to reasons related to "professional competence".

Queensland Teachers' Union president Cresta Richardson said even a doubling of notifications reflected "an extremely small percentage of the teaching profession".

She also said the pandemic contributed to a general rise in stress and anxiety.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Cresta Richardson said COVID-19 contributed to a rise in stress and anxiety for teachers.
Queensland Teachers' Union president Cresta Richardson said COVID-19 contributed to a rise in stress and anxiety for teachers.

"As teachers moved to teaching via a remote platform, their work expectations came under greater scrutiny from parents and employers," she said.

"Over the last couple of years, employers have become better informed on what forms the basis of a notification to the QCT."

"The QCT receives and assesses information about teachers' conduct, competence and suitability to teach," the report stated.

"The QCT also conducts investigations of, and disciplinary proceedings against, teachers … and in some cases former teachers."

In 2020, QCT, which oversees the registrations of more than 111,000 Queensland teachers, suspended the registration of 33 teachers as "part of our child protection work".

This included 17 teachers whose registrations were suspended due to being charged with a serious offence, including child sex offences, while 16 were suspended after being deemed an "unacceptable risk" to children.

Five teachers who were convicted of such a criminal offence had their registrations permanently cancelled.

Meanwhile, almost 195 teachers, along with Queensland Police, had to ­notify QCT of "changes in an approved teacher's criminal history".

Another 25 teachers accused of serious disciplinary actions were put under official investigation by QCT.

Overall, 3793 teachers had their registrations cancelled or removed for not paying their annual fees, not reapplying or renewing their registration, voluntarily surrendering their registering or being deceased.

Ms Richardson said the union would continue to support the work of the QCT.

"We know that every student deserves a great teacher and the QCT acts as a mechanism to support this," she said.

Originally published as Teachers behaving badly: Spike in misconduct during pandemic


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