The Pedagogical Oath



Should teachers with anti-social views be allowed to teach? I was appalled when a member of the BNP was not drummed out of the profession in May 2010 see  BBC News  So, I started thinking..... 



I've often quoted Voltaire,  “I disagree with what you say but I defend to the death your right to say it and I agree in general.  But this has made me realise I don't think it is always right... and I am prepared to stick my head above the parapet and say that, those who educate young people should not hold views in contravention of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Let me be clear.  I am not saying that the views of the BNP, or other obnoxious views should not be discussed in school.  Quite the opposite - I want them discussed - it is vital that they are discussed! But, I want them discussed rationally and fairly and, I'm convinced that debate would be influenced by someone who states that, "Immigrants are savages and should be sent back to their countries".  So, I now think, "I disagree with what you say and will defend my  right to ensure that people holding such views should not be teachers, youth workers, or work with young people" 



Then, when a friend's son qualified as a doctor and was required to swear the Hippocratic Oath I realsied that we educationalists might be missing an important step.  Couldn't teachers and youth workers, indeed all who work with young people, be asked, required even, to sign up to, or swear a Pedagogical oath, as Doctors swear a Hippocratic Oath?  If so, what might it contain?  Well, I've been banging on about interdependence (not independence) and the importance of values and ethical, or moral purpose for a while (as readers of this BLOG will know) and so I drafted an initial version.

I trialled the draft with over 200 Newly Qualified Teachers and about as many serving teachers, heads and advisers.  I asked if they would sign it, or even swear it....  No one had problems with it and many said they would happily sign it and offered modifications. I've even had interest for the Children's Commissioner's Office... 

If I were still a headteacher, or governor, a copy would be in the application pack and I'd ask if applicants agreed with it.  I believe I'd be on safe grounds refusing to appoint if they didn't.  Discuss...

The Pedagogical Oath

I promise to fulfil this professional oath to the best of my ability and preserve the finest traditions of my calling.


1.    I accept my responsibility in loco parentis and will always act in the ways of a good and thoughtful parent, or guardian.

2.    My vision is for learners, of all ages, to reach their full potential and work, interdependently, for the common good of others.

3.    I will create the best learning experiences I am able to, believing education to be enjoyment in discovering the knowledge, understanding and skills we need to be confident citizens in the global community 

4.    I will uphold and disseminate the articles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

5.    Whilst I may work with groups, I know learning takes place in the minds of individuals and so my care, best efforts and respect will be given equally and unconditionally to all within my charge.

6.    I recognise there is an art to working with learners and that warmth, sympathy and understanding must always balance the important pressures to impart information, deliver programmes, pursue academic excellence and expect high standards of behaviour.

7.    I will expect learners to challenge injustice, reduce harm, protect the vulnerable and isolated and sustain and improve the natural world.

8.    I will respect the confidentiality of my students, within the limits of the law.

9.    I will draw from the wisdom of those in whose steps I walk and gladly share such learning as is mine with those who follow. I will not be ashamed to say "I don’t know”, or fail to call on colleagues when their skills are needed.

10.   I will study the effect and impact of all I do, in order to do it better next time.

So, what do you think?
Would you put your hand up for this? 


Any suggestions gratefully received (below in comment) or via john@johnpearce.org.uk

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