Do you adhere to the Nolan principles?
Although teaching staff have guidance about their standards of personal and professional conduct, there is further guidance available that applies to all teachers and yet seems little known.
They are the 7 principles of public life and are also known as the Nolan Principles. These ethical principles represent the gold standard of public conduct and have duty and respect threaded throughout them.
In 1994, the UK government established a Committee on Standards in Public Life. Their remit was to make recommendations to improve standards of behaviour in public life. The committee was chaired by Lord Michael Patrick Nolan, and the first report of the committee established the seven principles of public life, also known as the “Nolan principles”.
These seven principles apply to anyone who works as a public office-holder. This includes people who are elected or appointed to public office, nationally and locally, and all people appointed to work in: civil service, local government, police, courts and probation services, non-departmental public bodies, health, education, social and care services and to those in other sectors that deliver public services.
Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
Holders of public office should be truthful.
Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
The Nolan Principles will be 25 years old but these core values are “timeless, tested and well-accepted baselines” and are needed more than ever.
As former head of MI5, Lord Jonathan Evans says,
While organisations from local councils to NHS trusts and schools have published codes of conduct, the Committee’s reports in recent years have frequently identified weaknesses in scrutiny and insufficient education in organisations about the expected standards of behaviour.
Do we need them? Of course, with reports of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour across schools then teachers need reminding of these noble principles and what it means to be the holder of a key position.
If there’s one place where teachers constantly break the Nolan principles, it’s using Twitter. Would you employ an abusive teacher?
It should be a condition that every teacher signs up to and upholds the Nolan Principles and understands what is expected of them.
Is your code of conduct anchored in the Seven Nolan Principles of Public Life?