Examples in Practice

The Code reflects the expectations of conduct and integrity that we all share; what we expect of each other and what our learners, their families and whānau, their communities and public can expect of us. It is a set of aspirations for professional behaviour - not a list of punitive rules. It reflects the expectations teachers and society place on the profession. Upholding the expectations in the Code is the responsibility of each of us. If one of us breaches the Code, it can affect us all, changing how others see us and how the profession is valued.
The Education and Training Act 2020 makes it binding on all teachers and holders of Limited Authorities to Teach (LAT).
When teachers worked with us to develop the Code, they told us that the discussions around different scenarios were a great way to gather different perspectives and insights into what we should expect of each other. Therefore, have put together a number of scenarios for you to discuss with your colleagues.
What is serious misconduct?
Serious misconduct is conduct that

  • adversely affects or is likely to adversely affect, the well-being or learning of one or more learners; or
  • reflects adversely on the teacher’s fitness to be a teacher; or
  • may bring the teaching profession into disrepute.


What is misconduct?
Misconduct described in any of paragraphs (a) to (e) and (k) of subclause (1) (of Rule 9 link above) may be—
(a) a single act; or
(b) a number of acts forming part of a pattern of behaviour, even if some of the acts when viewed in isolation, are minor or trivial.
How would I know if the behaviour or actions of a teacher constitutes misconduct or serious misconduct?

Read through each scenario below and then using the Code of Professional Responsibility information, identify what you think are potential breaches of the Code.

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Scenario One

It’s been a rough weekend for the teacher... His marriage appears to have broken down, his car won’t start, and his super rugby team just lost in the final. On Monday morning, he is feeling decidedly dusty turning up to teach his year 5—6 class. As the morning progresses, all 28 children in the class are excitedly completing an enquiry activity which involves group work discussion. The noise is starting to become too much for the teacher after a weekend which involved quite a lot of alcohol. After using his usually effective behaviour management strategies to bring the working noise level down, one child turns to the teacher and says, “but we ARE doing our work!”. The teacher responds with yelling back “Sit down and shut the f**k up”. The class are noticeably stunned by what has just occurred.

The student sworn at tells the duty teacher at morning tea what has occurred.

An employment investigation is conducted by the principal, where student accounts of the event are completed. The teacher is asked about the incident and admits that he responded in a way that he usually wouldn’t but does not remember swearing.

Circle what you think could be potential breaches of the Code related to the scenario: 

 Commitment to the Teaching Profession:  1.1     1.2     1.3     1.4     1.5
 Commitment to Learners:  2.1     2.2     2.3     2.4     2.5     2.6
 Commitment to Families and Whānau:  3.1     3.2     3.3
 Commitment to Society:  4.1     4.2     4.3

How did you do? Is this misconduct, or serious misconduct? Think about your reasons why/why not

Example of an outcome for this scenario:

 Potential Code breach(es)  1.3     2.1
 Serious misconduct or Misconduct  Misconduct
  • Aggressive verbal language
  • One off incident
  • Not directed at one child
  • Teacher remorseful
  • Not emotional abuse as not sustained
  • Breach of Code but not a serious breach

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Scenario Two

An ECE kaiako is leading mat time and reading a story to a group of tamariki. The kaiako notices a child sitting playing with a toy truck when there is a “no toys at mat-time” rule. She reminds the child of the rule and asks for them to return the truck where it belongs. The teacher continues reading the book to the group. When she looks over again, the child is back to playing with the truck and another child is starting to join in with loud “vrooooooooooooooom” noises.  

The kaiako reaches over and tries to grab the truck out of the child’s hands. When the child refuses to give up the toy, the teacher takes hold of the child’s arm, hoists them upwards and drags the child over to the construction corner approximately five metres away. The teacher forcefully removes the truck from the child’s hands and places it back on the shelf where it belongs. The child appears in distress to the other kaiako in the room, and a red mark is appearing on the upper arm where the child had been held by the kaiako. Another kaiako in the room takes the child down to the sick bay area for a cold cloth for the child’s arm. They inform the centre manager of what has just occurred.  

An employment investigation reveals that the other two staff members present in the room observed the kaiako pull the child by the arm and drag the child across the room. There were various accounts provided about the level of force used by the kaiako throughout the incident.  

The kaiako admits that the above incident occurred. However, she disputes that she dragged the child, and insists that she got down to the child’s level, explained there were no toys at mat time, and led the child to the construction area to put this away. She admits becoming frustrated at the construction area and states she took the truck from the child, but not forcefully.  

What you think could be potential breaches of the Code | Ngā Tikanga Matatika related to the scenario?
What are your thoughts? Is this misconduct, or serious misconduct? Think about your reasons why/why not.

Example of an outcome for this scenario: 

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Scenario Three


It is a long weekend coming up and the school is lucky enough to have a marae on site complete with wharekai, wharenui, and adjoining portable classrooms. Although the beginning teacher didn’t think they had any visitors for the weekend, they suddenly get a message that extended family are planning to stay at the teacher’s house for two nights.  

The school principal, who you would usually ask for permission to use the marae facilities is away, and in the lead up to the long weekend the teacher is not sure who to ask. The keys for the marae are inside the front reception and the booking sheet shows the marae is not booked for the weekend.  

The beginning teacher takes the keys and has an awesome time accommodating family for the weekend. At the conclusion of the weekend, the teacher puts the keys back and decides not to tell the principal they used the facility since you are meant to ask permission first.  

The next month, the school receives quite a large electricity bill which shows a peak in the weekend the beginning teacher had used the facilities for. When the administration checks, there is no booking for that weekend. 

What do you think could be potential breaches of the Code | Ngā Tikanga Matatika related to the scenario?
What are your thoughts? Is this misconduct, or serious misconduct? Think about your reasons why/why not.

Example of an outcome for this scenario: 

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Scenario Four

It is the beginning of the school year and a pōwhiri is taking place for new staff, tamariki, and whānau. The day before the pōwhiri, at a teacher-only day, a local kaumātua is leading the staff through the pōwhiri process and explaining appropriate tikanga. Once the kaumātua leaves the room, a teacher is audibly heard whispering to staff sitting around him, “what a waste of time, all this Māori s***, I’ll sit where I want to not where I am told...”    

What do you think could be potential breaches Ngā Tikanga Matatika | the Code related to the scenario?
What are your thoughts? Is this misconduct, or serious misconduct? Think about your reasons why/why not.

Example of an outcome for this scenario: 

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Scenario Five

A newly enrolled learner at a high school has an extremely long name, which is not of English origin. When the whānau attend the first day, they explain the meaning behind the name and the great value they place on their culture to the principal.   

The student is taken to their form class, where the teacher struggles to pronounce the name correctly. After a couple of attempts, the teacher says, “let’s just call you John, for short, OK?”  

When the student returns home from school, they tell their parents what has occurred. The parents realise they have not shared the importance of the child’s name with the teacher, just the principal. They therefore email the teacher to explain and give suggestions of how to break the student’s name up to practice the correct pronunciation.   

The next day, the teacher tells the student, “Sorry, I can’t pronounce your name, you are OK with John though, right?”

Establishing the Facts   

The CAC determined from the employment investigation documents and subsequent investigation report that on the balance of probabilities the following occurred:  

  • The teacher initially attempted to pronounce the name correctly   
  • After being unable to pronounce the name, they called the student “John” on two occasions   

What do you think could be potential breaches Ngā Tikanga Matatika | the Code related to the scenario? 

Commitment to the Teaching Profession: 1.1  1.2  1.3  1.4  1.5
Commitment to Learners: 2.1  2.2  2.3  2.4  2.5  2.6
Commitment to Families and Whānau: 3.1  3.2  3.3
Commitment to Society: 4.1  4.2  4.3


What are your thoughts? Is this misconduct, or serious misconduct? Think about your reasons why/why not. 

Example of an outcome for this scenario:

Serious misconduct or misconduct:

Is this conduct that:

a) adversely affects, or is likely to adversely affect, the well-being or learning of one or more students; or

b) reflects adversely on the teacher's fitness to be a teacher; or

c) may bring the teaching profession into disrepute


  • is of a character that meets the Teaching Council's criteria for reporting serious misconduct (which is found in Rule 9 of the Teaching Rules 2016, please see the link to Rule 9 here.)

No Rule 9 criteria satisfied here - not serious misconduct. 

Possibly (a) and (c) - consider if conduct affected, or was likely to affect, the wellbeing/learning of the learner? Did it bring the profession into disrepute?

No further action OR misconduct? (depending on whether (a) or (c) satisfied)

Potenial Code breach/es:

2.3 - respecting the diversity of the heritage, language, identity, and culture of all learners

4.2 - demonstrating a commitment to a Tiriti o Waitangi based Aotearoa New Zealand

  • Failure to respect the diversity, language, identity, and culture of all learners
  • Actions demonstrate a lack of cultural competence
  • Student was newly enrolled at school
  • Code includes a responsibility to demonstrate a commitment to Te Tiriti

Mitigating factors - teacher made some attempts to pronounce it correctly; and apologised for not being able to do so. Happened on two occassions only.

Suggest teacher understakes some professional development in this area. Probably not at level for seeking conditions on practising certificate.

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