Disciplinary Procedures for Teachers and Principals in Primary, Secondary and Community and Comprehensive Schools

The managerial authorities in schools, the Department of Education and Science, and the teacher unions in 2009 agreed procedures in relation to professional competence and general disciplinary problems.


These procedures are contained in circular 60/2009 which sets out 4 different procedures. 59/2009 is the relevant circular for VECs.

It is important to note that these procedures are without prejudice to the right of a teacher to have recourse to the law to protect his/her employment.

So, the first thing to decide is whether the teacher or principal procedures are appropriate.

And then decide whether the problem is one of professional competence or matters other than professional competence such as work, conduct, or other issues apart from professional competence.

The essential elements of any procedures for dealing with disciplinary issues are

  1. that they be rational and fair,
  2. that the basis for disciplinary action is clear,
  3. that the range of penalties that can be imposed is well-defined and
  4. that an internal appeal mechanism is available.

These principles are based on the principles of natural or constitutional justice.

Teachers and Professional Competence

There are 5 stages in the procedure:

  1. informal stage
  2. commencement of the formal process
  3. external review
  4. hearing
  5. appeal.

Parental Complaints

Parental complaints should be dealt with, in the first instance, using the agreed procedure.

The Principal will then need to decide whether the subject of the parental complaint should be considered under the professional competence procedures.

Teachers-Work and Conduct

This procedure, which covers issues other than professional competence such as work and conduct, may be commenced at any stage of the process if the circumstances warrant it.

The stages are:

  • informal stage
  • disciplinary procedure include 1) verbal warning, 2)written warning, 3)final written warning 4) board of management consideration of Principal’s report and presentation by teacher to Board with a range of sanctions open to the Board including demotion and dismissal, 5) appeal

Gross misconduct can be dealt with withtout going through stages 1-3, depending on the circumstances and can include acts carried out outside the school.

Principals-professional competence in their role as teacher

The same principles of natural justice apply as in the procedure for teachers.

Stages of the procedure:

  1. informal
  2. commencement of the formal process
  3. external review
  4. hearing
  5. appeal

Principal’s work and conduct

The various stages of the procedure can be commenced at any stage of the procedure.

The stages are:

  • informal stage
  • disciplinary action including 1) verbal warning, 2) written warning, 3) final written warning, 4) consideration by Board of Management of Principal’s report and a range of sanctions ranging from deferral of an increment to dismissal
  • appeal.

Gross misconduct can allow the invoking of this procedure at stages 1-3 and may relate to conduct or actions which took place outside the school.

Some points worth noting are that these procedures are in place to ensure fairness for all parties.

Failure to follow procedures or an abandonment of the principles of natural justice such as the absence of the presumption of innocence or any pre judging of an issue is unacceptable, contra natural justice and result in a flawed process which can be challenged/overturned.

It is worth reiterating that these procedures do not prevent a teacher or principal from obtaining legal advice in order to protect his/her position.

Teachers Disciplinary Procedures

Principals-disciplinary procedures

Update 2018

The procedures for suspension and dismissal of teachers changed in 2018.

Circular 0048/2018 – Revised Procedures for Suspension and Dismissal of Teachers and Principals (ETBs)

Circular 0049/2018 – Revised Procedures for Suspension and Dismissal of Teachers and Principals (Primary, Secondary, and Community and Comprehensive Schools)

Circular 0050/2018 – Procedures for Suspension and Dismissal of Principals of Community National Schools (Primary, ETB)

Special Needs Assistants

Special needs assistants: Circular 0072/2011 – Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures for Special Needs Assistants

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