Teaching Council (Amendment) Bill 2015: From the Seanad

The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments from the Seanad.

Seanad amendments Nos. 1, 2, 11 to 14, inclusive, 23, 24 and 38 are related and will be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 1:
Section 2: In page 3, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:
“ ‘Act of 2015’ means the Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015;”.

These are minor technical amendments to ensure consistency of language throughout the Bill when referring to the Act of 2015. They replace references to the Bill when enacted as the Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015 with the “Act of 2015”.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 2:
Section 2: In page 3, lines 24 and 25, to delete “Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015” and substitute “Act of 2015”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Seanad amendments Nos. 3, 41 and 45 to 49, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 3:
Section 2: In page 4, between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following:
“(ii) by the substitution of the following definition for the definition of “panel”:
" ‘panel’ means a panel of the Disciplinary Committee established under section 43(3);”,”.

Seanad Amendment No. 41 provides for the holding of an inquiry under section 43 by a panel of the disciplinary committee where the investigating committee has determined that there is a prima facie case to answer, following a complaint to the council about a registered teacher This is a redraft of section 43 to make clear the steps and processes involved in an inquiry and the responsibilities of the disciplinary committee and panels. The various avenues for conducting or completing inquiries are also set out.

In summary, the disciplinary committee will write to the teacher informing him or her of the nature of the complaint, including evidence supporting it, and an opportunity for him or her to request that the matter be investigated by way of an examination of documents. If a hearing is to be held, the teacher will be informed that he or she, or his or her representative, may be present to defend himself or herself at the hearing and that he or she may request that some or all of the hearing be held in private. The inquiry will be carried out by a panel of the disciplinary committee, consisting of three to five persons, the majority of whom will be registered teachers. At the request of the teacher, the panel may agree to hold the inquiry by way of consideration of documents and written submissions only, that is, in place of a hearing.

Having considered the complaint, the panel may request the teacher to do one or more of the following and before a hearing takes place: to undertake not to repeat the conduct; to undertake to attend a specified professional development course or such other course as the panel considers appropriate; to undertake to comply with such requirements as may be specified for the purposes of improving his or her competence and performance; to consent to seek the assistance of such services relating to health and welfare as may be specified; or to consent to being censured.

Where a registered teacher gives the type of undertaking I have just outlined, the inquiry will be completed. However, where a registered teacher does not give an undertaking in these matters, the inquiry will continue as if the request had not been made by the panel.

A hearing, if required, will be held in public by default, unless the teacher or a witness, about whom personal matters may be disclosed at the inquiry, requests that all or part of the hearing be held in private and the panel is satisfied that it would be appropriate in the circumstances to do so. At the hearing the director, or any other person with leave of the panel, will present evidence in support of the complaint. Witnesses will give testimony on oath and there will be the right to cross-examine witnesses and call evidence. The panel will be able to receive evidence given orally, by affidavit or other means such as video link. It will have the powers, rights and privileges vested in the High Court in respect of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and their examination on oath or otherwise and can compel the production of documents. A witness will have the same immunities and privileges as if he or she were a witness before the High Court.

For the purposes of the inquiry, a panel may, in accordance with the provisions of the new section 43A, consider information in a vetting disclosure and any submission made on that disclosure. I will outline the provisions of section 43A when dealing with amendment No. 42.

On completion of an inquiry, the panel may make no finding and dismiss the complaint. Otherwise, it will produce a report setting out the nature of the complaint, the evidence considered, the measures where a teacher has given an undertaking, where appropriate, and the panel’s findings. In addition, where the complaint relates to the conviction of a teacher for an offence triable on indictment, the panel must report whether the findings affect his or her fitness to teach. It will also report any other matter it considers appropriate.

Under the Bill, the Teaching Council may make a complaint under section 42 where it has received a vetting disclosure giving rise to a bona fide concern that a teacher may harm a child or vulnerable person, cause a child or vulnerable person to be harmed, put a child or vulnerable person at risk of harm, attempt to harm a child or vulnerable person, or incite another person to harm a child or vulnerable person. In such circumstances, where the panel is satisfied that there is a risk, in its report it will specify the nature of the information disclosed in the vetting disclosure, the evidence, its assessment of the risk and its conclusion in respect of that risk. Where it is not satisfied that there is a risk, it may dismiss the complaint.

Where a complaint is dismissed, the complainant, the teacher concerned, such other persons as he or she may request and his or her employer will be informed. At the request of the teacher, the panel will publish a notice to that effect.

The amendment involves the deletion of section 17 of the Bill which also provided for amendments to the provisions for an inquiry. However, amendment No. 41 is more comprehensive than section 17 in the original Bill.

Amendment No. 45 amends section 44 of the Act and provides that it is the panel, rather than the full disciplinary committee, which, having completed its report, will determine what measures, if any, are to be taken to sanction a teacher. The original Bill provided for the full disciplinary committee to have this function.

The amendment ensures consistency between sections 43 and 44 and this approach has been taken on foot of legal advice received by the Department.

Amendment No. 3 is a technical amendment consequent to amendment No. 41, which replaces subsection (43). Amendments Nos. 46 to 49, inclusive, replace the term "disciplinary committee" with "panel". The purpose of the amendments is to ensure consistency of language in section 44 of the principal Act, as amended, which provides that it is the panel and not the disciplinary committee which determines what measures, if any, are to be taken to sanction a teacher following the panel's report.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 4:
Section 3: In page 4, to delete lines 25 to 30 and substitute the following:
“(a) in subsection (2)—
(i) by the insertion of the following paragraph after paragraph (b):
“(ba) obtain or receive vetting disclosures for the purposes set out in this Act, for the purpose of its role as a relevant organisation or for the purpose of its role as a relevant organisation representing another relevant organisation for the purposes of the vetting procedures under the Act of 2012;”,
and
(ii) by the substitution of the following paragraph for paragraph (n):
“(n) act as a competent authority within the meaning of Regulation 2(1) of the Recognition of Professional Qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 139 of 2008);”,”.

This is a technical amendment to update the 2001 Act's reference to the EU directive on the mutual recognition of qualifications to the relevant directive that is now in place.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 5:
Section 3: In page 5, to delete lines 3 to 5 and substitute the following:
“(a) in paragraph (c)—
(i) by the substitution of the following subparagraph for subparagraph (iii):
“(iii) Marino Institute of Education;”,
and
(ii) by the substitution of the following subparagraph for subparagraph (iv):
“(iv) National University of Ireland, Maynooth;”,”.

This is a technical amendment updating the name of the Marino Institute of Education into the 2001 Act.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 6, 8 and 51 are related and will be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 6:
Section 5: In page 5, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 24 of Principal Act
5. Section 24 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) by the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (2):
“(2A) The Disciplinary Committee shall, for the purpose of carrying out its function under section 43(1), sit in divisions of itself (each division in this Act referred to as a ‘panel’) established under subsection (3) of that section.”,
and
(b) in subsection (6), by the substitution of “(other than the Executive Committee or Investigating Committee)” for “(other than the Executive Committee, Investigating Committee or Disciplinary Committee)”.”.

Amendment No. 6 is to enable the disciplinary committee, for the purpose of carrying out a fitness to teach inquiry, to sit in divisions of itself and where each division is to be referred to as a "panel". The 2001 Act already provided that panels would conduct inquiries on behalf of the disciplinary committee and the revised wording strengthens references in the Act to the role of the panels.

Section 28 of the principal Act provides for membership of the disciplinary committee. Amendment No. 8 removes the provisions in that section that the director will be secretary to the disciplinary committee and that the chairperson of the Teaching Council will be a member and chairperson of the disciplinary committee. These changes are proposed on foot of legal advice received by the Department on the separation of duties in terms of governance roles and the conduct of disciplinary inquiries. The legal advice indicates that it is more appropriate that the chair of the council would not be a member of the disciplinary committee.

Amendment No. 8 also proposes that the council selects eight, rather than seven, of its members who are registered teachers elected to the council or nominated by trade unions to make up the disciplinary committee. The number is being increased to make up for the removal of the chairperson as a member of the committee.

Amendment No. 51 amends section 44(2)(a) of the Bill, as amended in the Dáil, and provides that the disciplinary committee, rather than the director, advises relevant parties of the decision of a disciplinary panel following an inquiry. This is consistent with the removal of the requirement for the director to act as secretary to the committee.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 7, 30, 33, 34, 36, 39 and 40 are related and will be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 7:
Section 5: In page 5, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 27 of Principal Act
6. Section 27 of the Principal Act is amended by the repeal of subsection (4).”.

Amendments Nos. 7, 30, 33, 34, 36, 39 and 40, as proposed, serve to remove references to the director as secretary to the investigating committee. There is no legal need for the director to act as secretary to the investigating committee. Removing this requirement will afford the Teaching Council more flexibility in how it manages its operation of the fitness to teach processes, including in relation to the allocation of staff to support the work of the investigating committee. This also frees up the director to be the presenting officer for cases, which is a more appropriate role.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 8:
Section 5: In page 5, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:
“Amendment of section 28 of Principal Act
7. Section 28 of the Principal Act is amended—
(a) in subsection (2)—
(i) by the deletion of paragraph (a), and
(ii) in paragraph (b), by the substitution of “8 members” for “7 members”,
and
(b) by the repeal of subsection (3) and subsection (4).”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 9:
Section 5: In page 5, to delete lines 23 to 32 and substitute the following:
“(i) by the substitution of “in respect of each person who is registered or is entitled to be registered” for “in respect of each person entitled to be registered”,
(ii) by the substitution of the following subparagraph for subparagraph (iv):
“(iv) whether the registration is subject to conditions under section 31 (amended by section 7 of the Act of 2015), section 33 (amended by section 11* of the Act of 2015) or section 44 (amended by section 18 of the Act of 2015);”,
(iii) by the substitution of the following subparagraph for subparagraph (vii):
“(vii) name and address of employer if known to the Council;”,
(iv) by the substitution of the following subparagraph for subparagraph (x):
“(x) the findings of any disciplinary proceedings under Part 5, including any measures confirmed by a panel under section 44(1A), and the period for which such information shall remain on the register;”,
and
(v) by the insertion of the following subparagraph after subparagraph (x):
“(xi) the information disclosed by the most recent vetting disclosure in the possession of the Council in respect of the person;”,”.

Section 29 of the principal Act provides for the establishment and maintenance of the register of teachers. The purpose of this amendment is to update section 29 in relation to entering on the register details of each person who is registered or is entitled to be registered, as opposed to only each person entitled to be registered, to make clear that the provision relates to teachers who are applying for renewal of registration as well as initial registration.

It also makes consistent the reference in the Act in relation to whether the registration is subject to conditions under various sections, such as conditions that may be applied at initial registration stage and so on.

The amendment to the Bill provides that where the council prescribes the information to be included in the register, such information shall, in addition to the information set out in the Bill and the Act currently, include the name and address of employer if known to the council; the findings of any disciplinary proceedings under Part 5, including any measures confirmed by a panel under section 44(1A); and the period for which such information shall remain on the register. These updates are important so that the register can provide comprehensive information on a teacher’s registration status.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 10, 15 to 18, inclusive and 20 to 22, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 10:
Section 6: In page 6, line 10, to delete “Act of 1998” and substitute “Act of 1998, subsection (22) of section 33 (amended by section 11 of the Act of 2015)”.

The amendments are technical and consequential amendments arising from amendment No. 16. Amendment No. 16 substitutes the existing section 33 of the 2001 Act, which relates to renewal of registration. The Bill as initiated made a number of amendments to section 33 of the 2001 Act. Further amendments to section 33 were made on both Dáil Committee Stage, Seanad Committee Stage and on Seanad Report Stage. The substituted section 33 incorporates all amendments made to section 33 to date under the Bill. It sets out the entire provisions of the amended section 33, making it more coherent and easier to follow.

The Bill as initiated amended section 33 to provide, inter alia, for revised text in relation to the powers of the Teaching Council to make regulations for the purpose of renewal of registration and to also make provision for retrospective vetting and re-vetting arrangements for registered teachers in the context of renewal of their registration.

Further amendments to section 33 were made on Dáil Committee Stage. These included amendments clarifying the requirements on the council in relation to notifying a teacher in writing where it intends to seek a vetting disclosure for the purposes of his or her renewal of registration, clarifying the requirements in relation to the council making a decision to refuse renewal of registration on foot of its assessment of a vetting disclosure, providing for a certificate of registration to be issued to teachers, and making clear that where registration is renewed subject to conditions, a timeline may be set within which such conditions must be met.

In addition, on Seanad Committee Stage, amendments were made to section 33 to clarify further the Bill’s wording in relation to the requirements on a teacher in relation to complying with a vetting request within the required timeframe.

Seanad Report Stage amendments, including minor technical and wording changes arising from proofing the Bill, have now also been incorporated in the substituted section 33. In that regard, on Seanad Report Stage provision has been made that in exceptional circumstances where, notwithstanding that a registered teacher has co-operated with a vetting requirement in the context of the annual renewal of his or her registration, a vetting disclosure has not been received from the vetting bureau prior to the expiry of the teacher's registration, or it has been received but there has been insufficient time for the council to obtain and consider any submissions required in respect of that disclosure, the person shall remain on the register until such time as a decision on that person's renewal is made by the council having regard to the disclosure received and any submissions submitted by the person as appropriate.

This is subject to the council making a decision in respect of that person's registration within 21 days after the receipt of the disclosure concerned or where the disclosure contains information of relevance to that person's registration, the council having invited submissions from the person within 21 days of receipt of that disclosure and making a decision in respect of that person's registration within 21 days of receipt of such submissions.

Subsection 15 of the substituted section 33 also now provides that where a person has not complied with a vetting request for renewal of registration purposes, before the council makes a decision in relation to that person’s renewal, the teacher will be offered an opportunity to make submissions to the council as to why he or she did not comply and that the council will consider such submissions before making a decision in respect of that person's registration.

Where the council is not satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the person not complying with the vetting request, the council shall refuse to register that person. The council may, however, renew the person's registration where the teacher has satisfied the council that there were reasonable grounds for not complying with the vetting request, and having considered any further submissions from the teacher. These provisions ensure a teacher who has a valid and genuine reason for not complying within the required timeframe with a vetting request, perhaps due to incapacity or other exceptional circumstances, is not unfairly removed from the register.

The substituted section 33 also clarifies that where a teacher appeals the council’s decision to the High Court, the teacher will remain on the register during the period of appeal. The only exception to this will be where the Teaching Council, where it considers it to be in the public interest, has successfully applied to the High Court for an order to suspend the teacher from the register under section 47. In such cases, the High Court will, where the teacher is employed in a recognised school, determine whether or not the teacher continues to be remunerated out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

Section 33, as amended, now provides also that, following a High Court decision on an appeal, a teacher or the Teaching Council can make a further appeal to the Court of Appeal on a specified question of law. In such a case, the relevant court shall also, where the teacher is employed in a recognised school, determine whether the teacher continues to be remunerated out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas. Seanad amendment No. 10 updates section 30 of the 2001 Act to cross reference the new subsection 22 of section 33 arising from amendment number 16. Seanad amendment No. 15 is a consequential amendment to section 9 of the Bill, also arising from amendment No. 16. Section 9 of the Bill inserted a new section 31A into the principal Act placing a requirement on a person to provide his or her consent to vetting at initial registration or where he or she is requested by the council to do so, for the purposes of renewal of his or her registration. Under Seanad amendment No. 16, those provisions in respect of a teacher's compliance with a vetting request for renewal of registration purposes are being expanded and incorporated into section 33 and are therefore being removed from section 9. Seanad amendments Nos. 17, 18, and 20 to 22, inclusive, are also technical amendments necessary to re-number existing references in the Bill to section 33 on foot of amendment No. 16.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 11:
Section 6: In page 6, line 11, to delete “Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015” and substitute “Act of 2015”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 12:
Section 6: In page 6, lines 12 and 13, to delete “Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015” and substitute “Act of 2015”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 13:
Section 7: In page 7, lines 15 and 16, to delete “Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015” and substitute “Act of 2015”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 14:
Section 7: In page 7, lines 39 and 40, to delete “Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015” and substitute “Act of 2015”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 15:
Section 9: In page 8, to delete lines 23 to 27 and substitute the following:
“31A. Where a person applies for registration under section 31”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 16:
Section 11: In page 9, to delete lines 1 to 40, to delete pages 10 to 12, and in page 13, to delete lines 1 to 21 and substitute the following:
“Renewal of registration
11. The Principal Act is amended by the substitution of the following section for section 33 (amended by section 9 of the Education (Amendment) Act 2012):
“Renewal of registration
33. (1) Subject to subsection (13), registration shall be valid for 12 months from the date of registration.
(2) The Council may make regulations for the purposes of renewal of registration of registered teachers which shall provide for, but not necessarily be limited to, all or any of the following:
(a) the form and manner in which an application for renewal shall be made;
(b) the documentary and other evidence which the Council may request for the purposes of determining an application for renewal of registration;
(c) the documentary and other evidence which the Council may request to enable the Council to satisfy itself, for the purposes of subsection (8), that a registered teacher is a fit and proper person to have his or her registration renewed;
(d) any other requirements to be met for renewal of registration which may include requirements relating to—
(i) satisfactory completion of programmes of continuing education and training accredited under section 39,
(ii) teaching experience, or
(iii) medical fitness.
(3) A registered teacher may apply for renewal of his or her registration under this section for a further period of 12 months.
(4) (a) Subject to paragraph (b), an application for renewal of registration shall be made before the expiration of the period of validity of registration and the application shall be accompanied by the renewal fee.
(b) Where, in accordance with subsection (5), the Council notifies a registered teacher that it intends to seek a vetting disclosure in respect of him or her for the purposes of renewing his or her registration, the teacher shall comply with that notice within the period referred to in paragraph (d) of that subsection.
(5) (a) The Council may seek a vetting disclosure in respect of a registered teacher for the purposes of renewing the registration of the teacher in accordance with this section.
(b) The Council shall notify a registered teacher in writing where the Council intends to seek a vetting disclosure in respect of the registered teacher under paragraph (a) and the notice shall—
(i) request the registered teacher to provide the Council with a declaration of consent (within the meaning of the Act of 2012) and any other information specified in the notice which is required by the Council to enable it to obtain a vetting disclosure in respect of that teacher,
(ii) specify the time period within which the registered teacher shall comply with a request under subparagraph (i) and the form and manner in which the information requested under that subparagraph shall be furnished,
(iii) advise the registered teacher that the Council intends to consider the vetting disclosure for the purpose of determining if he or she is a fit and proper person, in accordance with subsection (8), to have his or her registration renewed upon his or her next renewal under this section,
(iv) advise the registered teacher that the Council may refuse to renew the registration of that teacher under this section if he or she fails to comply with the request under subparagraph (i) within the time period specified under subparagraph (ii) and the Council has not been in a position to make a determination that he or she is a fit and proper person to have his or her registration renewed, and
(v) advise the registered teacher that the Council may, having regard to the information contained in the vetting disclosure, where it is satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so, apply to the High Court under section 47 for an order that during the period specified in the order his or her registration shall be suspended.
(c) A notice issued under paragraph (b) shall be issued—
(i) not earlier than 10 months prior to the date of expiration of the period of validity of registration of that teacher, or
(ii) within such lesser period as the Minister may direct in respect of all notifications made to registered teachers under that paragraph.
(d) A notice from the Council under paragraph (b) shall specify the period within which the notice shall be complied with, which period shall be the same in respect of all registered teachers to whom a notice is issued in accordance with this subsection.
(6) In considering whether to seek a vetting disclosure under subsection (5) in respect of a registered teacher, the Council shall have regard to—
(a) whether a GCVU disclosure has previously been received by the Council in respect of that teacher,
(b) where a GCVU disclosure has previously been received by the Council in respect of that teacher, the period of time which has elapsed since the last GCVU disclosure was received by the Council in respect of that teacher,
(c) whether a vetting disclosure has previously been received by the Council in respect of that teacher,
(d) where a vetting disclosure has previously been received by the Council in respect of that teacher, the period of time which has elapsed since the last vetting disclosure was received by the Council in respect of that teacher, and
(e) where the Council has previously considered a vetting disclosure in respect of a teacher for the purposes of registration or renewal of registration under this Act, any periods prescribed under section 20 of the Act of 2012.
(7) Where the Council seeks a vetting disclosure under subsection (5) in respect of a registered teacher and the disclosure contains specified information which relates to conduct of the teacher which occurred prior to the coming into operation of section 11* of the Act of 2015, the Council may not consider that information for the purposes of subsection (8) unless the conduct concerned would have constituted a criminal offence at the time the conduct occurred.
(8) Where the Council receives a vetting disclosure under this section in respect of a registered teacher the Council shall, for the purpose of satisfying itself that the registered teacher is a fit and proper person to have his or her registration renewed, consider—
(a) subject to subsection (7), the information contained in the disclosure,
(b) any submissions made by the registered teacher under subsection (9), and
(c) any documentary and other evidence submitted by that registered teacher to the Council in accordance with requirements (if any) prescribed under subsection (2)(c).
(9) Subject to subsection (14)(b), where a vetting disclosure received by the Council under this section in respect of a registered teacher contains information referred to in section 14(4)(a) of the Act of 2012 and the Council considers the information in that disclosure is of relevance to its consideration as to whether the teacher is a fit and proper person to have his or her registration renewed under this section, the Council shall notify that teacher accordingly and invite him or her to make submissions in writing to it in relation to that disclosure within such period as is specified in the notice.
(10) The Council may seek evidence from the registered teacher, or any other relevant person, to verify any of the information submitted by the registered teacher for the purposes of renewal of registration in accordance with this section.
(11) The term of a renewal of registration shall take effect from the expiration of the previous registration.
(12) On receipt of an application for renewal of registration and the prescribed fee, the Council shall, as soon as practicable, send to the registered teacher a receipt stating that the fee has been received.
(13) Where, in exceptional circumstances, notwithstanding that a registered teacher has complied with a notice under subsection (5)(b) within the time specified in the notice, the Council has—
(a) not received a vetting disclosure in respect of that teacher before the expiration of the period of validity of that teacher’s registration, or
(b) received a vetting disclosure to which subsection (9) applies but does not have sufficient time before the expiration of the period of validity of that teacher’s registration to seek submissions referred to in that subsection,
that teacher’s name shall not be removed from the register until the Council makes a decision under subsection (16) in accordance with subsection (14).
(14) (a) Where a vetting disclosure referred to in paragraph (a) of subsection (13) is received and the disclosure does not contain information referred to in subsection (9), the Council shall make a decision under subsection (16) within 21 days of receipt of that disclosure.
(b) Where—
(i) a vetting disclosure referred to in paragraph (a) of subsection (13) is received and the disclosure contains information referred to in subsection (9), or
(ii) paragraph (b) of subsection (13) applies,
the Council shall within 21 days of receipt of that disclosure, notify the registered teacher in accordance with subsection (9) and the period specified in the notice referred to in that subsection shall be 21 days and the Council shall make a decision under subsection (16) within 21 days after the expiration of the period for the making of submissions by that teacher.
(15) (a) Where a registered teacher fails to comply with a request under subparagraph (i) of a notice under subsection (5)(b) within the time specified in that notice, the Council shall notify the teacher in writing that the Council may refuse to renew that teacher’s registration in accordance with subsection (16)(a)(iii) and that teacher may, within such time period as may be specified in the notice, make submissions in writing to the Council in relation to that failure.
(b) The Council shall consider submissions (if any) made by a teacher under paragraph (a) and where the Council is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for the teacher’s failure to comply with that notice, the Council shall notify the teacher in writing that the Council may refuse to register the teacher in accordance with section 16(a)(iii) and that the teacher may make submissions and include with such submissions any information which he or she considers relevant to the Council’s determination under subsection (16)(a)(iii).
(16) The Council—
(a) may refuse to renew the registration of a person where—
(i) he or she does not satisfy the requirements for renewal of registration prescribed under subsection (2),
(ii) at the time the Council makes its decision, the person—
(I) stands removed from the register under Part 5 and is not eligible to apply to be restored to the register under section 31, or
(II) stands suspended from the register under Part 5 and the period of suspension has not expired,
or
(iii) the registered teacher fails to comply with the notice under subsection (5)(b) within the time specified in the notice, and having considered the submissions and information (if any) submitted under subsection (15)(b), the Council has not been in a position to determine if that registered teacher is a fit and proper person to have his or her registration renewed,
(b) shall refuse to renew the registration of the registered teacher where—
(i) the Council receives a vetting disclosure in respect of a registered teacher under this section and is not satisfied, in accordance with subsection (8), that the registered teacher is a fit and proper person to have his or her registration renewed, or
(ii) the Council is not satisfied that the teacher has provided reasonable grounds for his or her failure to comply with a request under subparagraph (i) of a notice under subsection (5) (b),
or
(c) may renew the registration of a registered teacher subject to such conditions (if any) as the Council considers appropriate and such conditions shall be complied with within such period as may be specified by the Council.
(17) A receipt issued by the Council under subsection (12), and a certificate issued by it under subsection (24), shall, without proof of the signature of the person purporting to sign the receipt or certificate or that such person was the proper person so to sign, be evidence in any legal proceedings that, as the case may be, the payment was made or the registration was renewed for the period specified in the certificate, unless the contrary is shown.
(18) Where the Council makes a decision under subsection (16)—
(a) to refuse to renew the registration of a person, or
(b) to renew the registration of a person subject to conditions, the Council shall, within 21 days of making the decision, inform the person, by notice in writing, of the decision, the reason for the decision and the rights of the person under subsection (19).
(19) A person may, within 21 days of the date of service of a notice under subsection (18), apply to the High Court for annulment of the decision concerned and the Court, on hearing the application, may—
(a) confirm the decision of the Council,
(b) annul the decision of the Council and as the Court considers appropriate—
(i) direct the Council to renew the registration of the person with or without conditions, as the case may be, or
(ii) direct the Council to make a further decision,
(c) vary the decision of the Council, or
(d) give such other directions to the Council as the Court considers appropriate, and the Court may make such order as to costs as it considers appropriate.
(20) Subject to any order that may be made by the High Court under section 47 suspending the registration of a teacher, where a teacher brings an application under subsection (19) within the time period specified in that subsection, that teacher shall remain on the register until the High Council makes a decision under that section.
(21) By leave of the High Court or the Court of Appeal, an appeal by the Council or the teacher concerned from a decision of the High Court under subsection (19) shall lie to the Court of Appeal on a point of law.
(22) Where—
(a) the decision of the High Court under subsection (19) results in a registered teacher being removed from the register,
(b) the High Court or the Court of Appeal grants leave to a teacher under subsection (21) to appeal a decision of the High Court to the Court of Appeal on a point of law,
(c) at the date of the grant of leave the teacher is employed as a teacher in a recognised school, and
(d) that teacher is remunerated in respect of his or her employment out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas,
the High Court or the Court of Appeal, as the case may be, shall at the same time as it grants such leave to appeal direct whether that teacher shall continue to be remunerated pursuant to his or her contract of employment out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas pending the determination of that appeal.
(23) A direction of the High Court or the Court of Appeal under subsection (22) that a teacher shall continue to be remunerated shall be subject to such terms and be for such period as the High Court or the Court of Appeal considers appropriate.
(24) When renewal of registration has been completed the Council shall issue to the registered teacher a certificate of registration in such form and manner and containing such information as the Council may prescribe.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 17:
Section 12: In page 13, line 27, to delete “section 33(7)(c)” and substitute “section 33(16)(c)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 18:
Section 12: In page 13, line 37, to delete “section 33(10)(b)” and substitute “section 33(19)(b)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 19:
Section 13: In page 13, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following:
“Sharing of information in a vetting disclosure obtained under section 33
13. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 33A (inserted by section 12):
“Sharing of information in a vetting disclosure obtained under section 33
33B. (1) Subject to this section, the Council may provide the employer of a registered teacher with information contained in a vetting disclosure received by the Council for the purposes of the renewal of teacher’s registration under section 33 where—
(a) the Council considers that the information in that disclosure is of such a nature as to give rise to a bona fide concern that the teacher may—
(i) harm any child or vulnerable person,
(ii) cause any child or vulnerable person to be harmed,
(iii) put any child or vulnerable person at risk of harm,
(iv) attempt to harm any child or vulnerable person, or
(v) incite another person to harm any child or vulnerable person,
and
(b) the identity of the employer of that teacher is known to the Council.
(2) Where the Council proposes to provide the employer of a registered teacher with information contained in a vetting disclosure under subsection (1), it shall notify the teacher in writing accordingly and invite him or her to make submissions in writing to it in relation to that proposal within such period as is specified in the notice.
(3) The Council shall consider submissions (if any) made by a registered teacher under subsection (2) before making a decision under subsection (1) to provide the employer of that teacher with the information contained in a vetting disclosure referred to in subsection (1).”.”.

The purpose of this provision is to enable the Teaching Council, where it has received a vetting disclosure in respect of a registered teacher for the purposes of the renewal of his or her registration and information in that disclosure gives rise to a bona fide child protection concern, to provide that information to the employer of the teacher, where that employer is known to the council. The amendment provides that before making a decision to provide such information to an employer, the council shall notify the teacher in writing and invite him or her to make submissions within a specified period and that any submissions received shall be considered by the council.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 20:
Section 13: In page 14, to delete lines 13 and 14 and substitute the following:
“under subsection (16) of section 33 (amended by section 11* of the Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015) of the Principal Act.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 21:
Section 14: In page 14, lines 21 and 22, to delete “subsection (4A)” and substitute “subsection (5)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 22:
Section 14: In page 14, line 23, to delete “subsection (4A)” and substitute “subsection (5)”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 23:
Section 14: In page 14, lines 28 and 29, to delete “Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015” and substitute “Act of 2015”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 24:
Section 15: In page 15, lines 1 and 2, to delete “Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015” and substitute “Act of 2015”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 25:
Section 16: In page 15, to delete lines 29 to 32 and substitute the following:
“(g) that he or she has been convicted in the State of an offence triable on indictment or convicted outside the State of an offence consisting of acts or omissions that, if done or made in the State, would constitute an offence triable on indictment;
(h) that he or she has failed to comply with an undertaking or to take any action specified in a consent given in response to a request under section 43(6).”.

The purpose of this provision is to provide for non-compliance with an undertaking given by a registered teacher following an inquiry by the disciplinary committee under section 43 of the Act, as an additional reason for complaint under section 42, inquiry by investigating committee. If a teacher has agreed to measures as part of an inquiry it makes sense that non-compliance with the measures can be followed up. This is the same structure as applies for other regulators. Section 42(1)(g), dealing with conviction for an offence, is already in the Bill.

Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 26 to 29, inclusive, 31, 32 and 37 are related and may be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 26:
Section 16: In page 16, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:
“(1E) The Council may make a complaint to the Investigating Committee under subsection (1)(g) in respect of a registered teacher on the basis of information contained in a vetting disclosure received by the Council on behalf of another relevant organisation the Council represents for the purpose of vetting procedures under the Act of 2012.”.

Section 16 of the Bill amends section 42 of the 2001 Act. That section sets out the grounds on which complaints about registered teachers may be made and the role and processes to be followed by the director and the investigating committee in respect of such complaints. Subsection (1D) of section 42 as amended by the Bill provides that the council may make a complaint to the investigating committee where a vetting disclosure, obtained in its conduit role for school employers, gives rise to a bona fide child protection concern. Amendment No. 26 inserts a new subsection (1E) into section 42 which makes clear that the council may also make a complaint to the investigating committee, under the existing provisions of section 42(1)(g), where a disclosure obtained in its conduit role contains information in relation to a criminal conviction. Under the Bill as it stands, section 42(1)(g) provides that a complaint may be made in respect of a registered teacher on the grounds "that he or she has been convicted in the State of an offence triable on indictment or convicted outside the State of an offence consisting of acts or omissions that, if done or made in the State, would constitute an offence triable on indictment". Amendment No. 26 makes clear that such a complaint may be made by the council where a vetting disclosure obtained in its conduit role for school employers contains information about a conviction of this nature.

Amendments Nos. 27 and 28 are technical amendments to revise numbering following inclusion of amendment No. 26. Amendments Nos. 29, 32 and 37 are also linked to amendment No. 26. Amendment No. 29 makes clear that where the council, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Bill, makes a complaint in respect of information contained in a vetting disclosure that it has obtained in its conduit role, the council shall provide the director with a copy of the vetting disclosure concerned and shall indicate the information within that disclosure which grounds the complaint. Amendment No. 31 is a technical amendment creating the link necessary for the provisions of amendment No. 32 to be inserted in the Bill. Amendment No. 32 makes clear that the director may, in the case of such complaints and for the purpose of considering whether to refuse or to refer such a complaint to the investigating committee, consider the information in the disclosure in so far as it relates to the complaint in question.

Amendment No. 37 replaces subsection (7) of section 43, as amended by this Bill, with revised wording to incorporate additional provisions that set out more comprehensively the requirements on the investigating committee when dealing with such complaints. This new subsection (7) has been amended to provide that in addition to providing the teacher concerned with a copy of the complaint and other information and documentation accompanying the complaint, the investigating committee shall provide a copy of the vetting disclosure to the teacher concerned where the complaint has been made by the council in relation to information in that disclosure and for the teacher to be invited to make submissions in respect of that vetting disclosure. This amendment also makes clear that the investigating committee may consider the information in a disclosure insofar as that information relates to the complaint made by the council and any submissions made in relation to that disclosure.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 27:
Section 16: In page 16, line 27, to delete “(IE) A complaint made” and substitute “(1F) A complaint made”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 28:
Section 16: In page 16, line 29, to delete “(1F) A complaint made” and substitute “(1G) A complaint made”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 29:
Section 16: In page 16, line 38, to delete “complaint.” and substitute the following:
“complaint, including—
(i) in the case of a complaint made under subsection (1D), a copy of the vetting disclosure referred to in that subsection and confirmation of the information contained in that disclosure which grounds the complaint under that subsection, and
(ii) in the case of a complaint made under subsection (1)(g) to which subsection (1E) applies, a copy of the vetting disclosure referred to in subsection (1E) and confirmation of the information contained in the disclosure which grounds the complaint under subsection (1)(g).”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 30:
Section 16: In page 17, to delete lines 1 to 3 and substitute the following:
“(i) to substitute the following for paragraph (a):
“(a) Subject to paragraph (b), the Director shall refer all complaints made under subsection (1) or subsection (1D) to the Investigating Committee.”,”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 31:
Section 16: In page 17, line 8, to delete “occurs,” and substitute the following:
“occurs,
and”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 32:
Section 16: In page 17, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:
“(iii) by the insertion of the following paragraph after paragraph (b):
“(c) For the purposes of considering whether to refuse to refer a complaint under paragraph (b), the Director may—
(i) in the case of a complaint made under subsection (1D), consider the information contained in the vetting disclosure in so far as the information grounds the complaint under, and in accordance with, that subsection, and
(ii) in the case of a complaint made under subsection (1)(g) to which subsection (1E) applies, consider the information contained in the vetting disclosure in so far as the information grounds the complaint under subsection (1)(g).”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 33:
Section 16: In page 17, line 28, to delete “the Director” and substitute “the Investigating Committee”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 34:
Section 16: In page 18, line 4, to delete “the Director” and substitute “the Investigating Committee”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 35:
Section 16: In page 18, to delete lines 28 to 31 and substitute the following:
“(ii) in paragraph (b)—
(I) by the substitution of “a complaint” for “an application or appeal”,
(II) by the substitution of “the complaint” for “the application or appeal” in each place it occurs, and
(III) by the deletion of subparagraph (iii),”.

Amendment No. 35 is a technical amendment required on foot of amendments on Dáil Committee Stage to take account of changes in terminology. In this regard, the Bill refers to a "complaint" under section 42 whereas the 2001 Act referred to an "application" or "appeal". It also deletes the provision at section 42(5)(b)(iii) of the Act that the investigating committee shall refuse to consider a complaint where there is insufficient evidence to warrant an investigation.

The purpose of this change is to guard against the danger that a complaint must be refused, even if of a serious nature, where there is little evidence available or where it is not straightforward to determine if it is sufficient. It would not be desirable for a situation to develop where there was a danger that a complaint might have to be abandoned before an informed decision could be made on whether it merited an inquiry.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 36:
Section 16: In page 18, to delete lines 32 to 34 and substitute the following:
“(h) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (6):
“(6) Where the Investigating Committee refuses under paragraph (b) of subsection (5) to consider a complaint referred to in paragraph (a) of that subsection, the Investigating Committee shall, within 21 days of such refusal, by notice in writing inform the complainant of its decision to refuse and the reasons for that decision.”,”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 37:
Section 16: In page 18, to delete lines 35 and 36 and substitute the following:
“(i) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (7):
“(7) (a) Where the Investigating Committee decides to hold an inquiry, the Investigating Committee shall, within 21 days of making the decision, provide the registered teacher with—
(i) a copy of the complaint and any documents and information accompanying the complaint including, in the case of a complaint made under subsection (1D) or a complaint made under subsection (1)(g) to which subsection (1E) applies, a copy of the vetting disclosure referred to in subsection (1D) or (1E), as the case may be, and confirmation of the information contained in that disclosure which grounds the complaint under subsection (ID) or subsection (1)(g), as the case may be, and
(ii) a notice stating that the registered teacher may make submissions in writing to the Investigating Committee within such time period as is specified in the notice, including submissions in relation to a vetting disclosure (if any) provided in accordance with subparagraph (i).
(b) The Investigating Committee shall consider submissions (if any) made by the registered teacher concerned pursuant to paragraph (a)(ii).
(c) The Investigating Committee may consider—
(i) in the case of a complaint made under subsection (1D), the information contained in the vetting disclosure in so far as that information grounds the complaint under, and in accordance with, that subsection, and
(ii) in the case of a complaint made under subsection (1)(g) to which subsection (1E) applies, the information contained in the vetting disclosure in so far as the information grounds the complaint under subsection (1)(g).”,”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 38:
Section 16: In page 19, lines 26 and 27, to delete “Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015” and substitute “Act of 2015”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 39:
Section 16: In page 21, to delete line 10 and substitute “Committee.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 40:
Section 16: In page 21, to delete lines 11 to 15 and substitute the following:
“(n) in subsection (10)—
(i) by the substitution of “The Investigating Committee shall, within 21 days of making a decision under subsection (9)” for “The Director shall, within 21
days of receiving the decision made under subsection (9)”, and
(ii) in paragraph (a), by the substitution of “the complainant” for “the applicant”,
and”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 41:
Section 17: In page 21, to delete lines 24 to 39, and in page 22, to delete lines 1 to 34 and substitute the following:
“Amendment of section 43 of Principal Act
17. The Principal Act is amended by the substitution of the following section for section 43:
“Inquiry by Disciplinary Committee
43. (1) The Disciplinary Committee shall hold an inquiry into the fitness to teach of a registered teacher in respect of a complaint referred to it by the Investigating Committee under section 42(9)(a).
(2) As soon as is practicable after a complaint is referred to it under section 42(9)(a), the Disciplinary Committee shall cause a notice in writing to be given to—
(a) the registered teacher the subject of the complaint of the following:
(i) the referral of the complaint to the Disciplinary Committee;
(ii) the nature of the matter that is to be the subject of the inquiry, including the particulars of any evidence in support of the complaint;
(iii) the opportunity for the registered teacher to request that the inquiry be held by examination of documents in accordance with subsection (4);
(iv) if a hearing is being held as part of an inquiry, the opportunity for the registered teacher, or the registered teacher’s representative, to be present and to defend the registered teacher at the hearing;
(v) if a hearing is being held as part of an inquiry, the opportunity for the registered teacher to request that some or all of the hearing be held otherwise than in public if the registered teacher can show reasonable and sufficient cause;
and
(b) if a hearing is being held as part of an inquiry, any witnesses who may be required to give evidence at the hearing (including, where appropriate, the complainant) of the opportunity of the witness to request that some or all of the hearing be held otherwise than in public if the witness can show reasonable and sufficient cause.
(3) For the purpose of an inquiry under this section, the chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee shall appoint, from among the members of the Disciplinary Committee, a panel consisting of not less than 3 and not more than 5 persons, of whom a majority shall be registered teachers and Schedule 3 shall apply.
(4) Subject to such rules as may be made under Schedule 3, a panel may, at the request of, or with the consent of, the registered teacher concerned hold an inquiry under this section by an examination of documents and written submissions from the complainant and the registered teacher, including any documents and written submissions considered by the Investigating Committee in relation to the complaint, in place of a hearing.
(5) For the purposes of an inquiry under this section by an examination of documents, the panel shall provide the registered teacher with a notice stating that the registered teacher may make submissions in relation to the inquiry in writing to the panel within such time as may be specified in the notice.
(6) A panel may, at any time after its appointment under subsection (3) and having considered the complaint the subject of the inquiry, request the registered teacher who is the subject of the complaint to do one or more of the following:
(a) if appropriate, undertake not to repeat the conduct the subject of the complaint;
(b) undertake to attend a specified professional development course, or such other course as the panel considers appropriate;
(c) undertake to comply with such requirements as may be specified for the purposes of improving his or her competence and performance as a registered teacher;
(d) consent to seek the assistance of such services relating to health and welfare as may be specified;
(e) consent to being censured.
(7) Where a registered teacher gives an undertaking or consent in relation to all matters which are the subject of a request from a panel under subsection (6), the inquiry into the complaint shall be considered to be completed.
(8) Where a registered teacher refuses to give an undertaking or consent in relation to all matters which are the subject of a request from a panel under subsection (6), the panel shall continue with the inquiry as if the request had not been made.
(9) Where a hearing is being held before a panel as part of an inquiry, the hearing shall be held in public unless—
(a) following a notification under section 43(2), the registered teacher or a witness who will be required to give evidence at the inquiry or about whom personal matters may be disclosed at the inquiry requests the panel to hold all or part of the hearing otherwise than in public, and
(b) the panel is satisfied that it would be appropriate in the circumstances to hold the hearing or part of the hearing otherwise than in public.
(10) The panel shall give notice in writing to the registered teacher the subject of a complaint referred to the Disciplinary Committee of the date, time and place of any hearing of the complaint in sufficient time for the registered teacher to prepare for the hearing.
(11) At the hearing of a complaint before a panel—
(a) the Director, or any other person with leave of the panel, shall present the evidence in support of the complaint,
(b) the testimony of witnesses attending the hearing shall be given on oath, and
(c) there shall be a full right to cross-examine witnesses and call evidence in defence and reply.
(12) Any member of the panel may administer oaths for the purposes of an inquiry.
(13) Subject to any rules in force under Schedule 3, and to the necessity of observing fair procedures, the panel may receive evidence given—
(a) orally before the committee,
(b) by affidavit, or
(c) as otherwise allowed by those rules, including by means of a live video link, a video recording, a sound recording or any other mode of transmission.
(14) A panel shall, for the purpose of an inquiry under this section, have the powers, rights and privileges vested in the High Court or a judge thereof in respect of—
(a) the enforcement of the attendance of witnesses and their examination on oath or otherwise, and
(b) the compelling of the production of documents, and a summons signed by the chairperson of the panel or by such other member of the panel as may be authorised by the panel for that purpose may be substituted for and shall be equivalent to any formal procedure capable of being issued in an action for enforcing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the production of documents.
(15) For the purposes of an inquiry under this section, a panel may, in relation to a vetting disclosure, consider the information and submissions referred to in section 43A.
(16) A witness before a panel shall be entitled to the same immunities and privileges as if he or she were a witness before the High Court.
(17) Following the completion of an inquiry by a panel, the panel shall—
(a) where it makes no finding against the registered teacher in respect of a complaint under any of paragraphs (a) to (h) of subsection (1) of section 42, dismiss the complaint,
(b) where an inquiry is completed under subsection (7) or where the panel makes a finding or findings against the registered teacher in respect of a complaint under any of paragraphs (a) to (h) of subsection (1) of section 42, make a report of the inquiry and shall specify in the report—
(i) the nature of the complaint,
(ii) the evidence before the panel,
(iii) where an inquiry is completed under subsection (7), the measures included in the undertaking or consent,
(iv) where it makes a finding or findings against the registered teacher in respect of a complaint under any of paragraphs (a) to (h) of subsection (1) of section 42, the panel’s finding or findings,
(v) where any finding in respect of the registered teacher is in the terms of section 42(1)(g), its consideration of whether that finding affects the fitness to teach of the registered teacher, and
(vi) any other matter in relation to the registered teacher which the panel considers appropriate,
(c) where it is satisfied, in respect of a complaint made under subsection (1D) of section 42, having regard to the protection of children and vulnerable persons, that there is a risk that the teacher may harm any child or vulnerable person, cause any child or vulnerable person to be harmed, put any child or vulnerable person at risk of harm, attempt to harm any child or vulnerable person, or incite another person to harm any child or vulnerable person, make a report of the inquiry and shall specify in the report—
(i) the nature of the information disclosed in the vetting disclosure giving rise to the complaint under that subsection,
(ii) the evidence laid before the panel,
(iii) its assessment of the risk concerned, and
(iv) its conclusion in respect of that risk,
or
(d) where it is not satisfied, in respect of a complaint made under subsection (1D) of section 42, having regard to the protection of children and vulnerable persons, that there is a risk that the teacher may harm any child or vulnerable person, cause any child or vulnerable person to be harmed, put any child or vulnerable person at risk of harm, attempt to harm any child or vulnerable person, or incite another person to harm any child or vulnerable person, dismiss the complaint.
(18) Where the panel dismisses a complaint under subsection (17), the panel shall, as soon as practicable, by notice in writing, inform—
(a) the complainant,
(b) the registered teacher concerned and such other persons as the teacher may request, and
(c) where the teacher is employed as a teacher, his or her employer,
and shall, at the request of the registered teacher concerned, publish a notice to that effect in such form and manner as may be determined by the Council.
(19) In this section, ‘document’ includes—
(a) a book, record or other printed material,
(b) a photograph,
(c) any information stored, maintained or preserved by means of any mechanical or electronic device, whether or not stored, maintained or preserved in legible form, and
(d) any audio or video recording.”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 42:
Section 18: In page 22, between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following:
“Use of information in vetting disclosures in inquiry under section 43
18. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 43:
“Use of information in vetting disclosures in inquiry under section 43
43A. (1) For the purposes of an inquiry under section 43, a panel may consider—
(a) the information (in so far as that information relates to the conduct which is the subject of the inquiry) contained in a vetting disclosure obtained by the Investigating Committee under subsection (7A) of section 42 subject to subsection (7C) of that section in like manner as subsection (7C) applies to the Investigating Committee, and
(b) submissions (if any) made by the registered teacher concerned under subsection (7A)(b) of section 42 to the Investigating Committee.
(2) Where the Investigating Committee did not seek a vetting disclosure in respect of a registered teacher under section 42(7A) in relation to a complaint and a panel considers that the complaint referred to the Disciplinary Committee by the Investigating Committee under section 42(9)(a) is of such a nature as to reasonably give rise to a bona fide concern that that teacher may—
(a) harm any child or vulnerable person,
(b) cause any child or vulnerable person to be harmed,
(c) put any child or vulnerable person at risk of harm,
(d) attempt to harm any child or vulnerable person, or
(e) incite another person to harm any child or vulnerable person,
the panel may request the Council to apply to the National Vetting Bureau for a vetting disclosure in respect of that registered teacher.
(3) Where a panel receives a vetting disclosure under subsection (2) in respect of a registered teacher, it shall provide the registered teacher concerned with a copy of the disclosure and invite that teacher to make submissions in writing to the panel in relation to the disclosure within such time period as is specified in the notice.
(4) A panel shall consider submissions (if any) made by the registered teacher concerned under subsection (3).
(5) Subject to subsection (6), a panel may, for the purpose of its inquiry, consider the information contained in a vetting disclosure obtained under subsection (2) in so far as the information relates to the conduct which is the subject of the complaint.
(6) Where a vetting disclosure obtained by the Council under subsection (2) in respect of a registered teacher contains specified information and that specified information relates to conduct of the teacher which occurred prior to the coming into operation of section 16 of the Act of 2015, the panel may not consider that information for the purposes of subsection (5) unless the conduct concerned would have constituted a criminal offence at the time the conduct occurred.
(7) For the purposes of an inquiry under section 43 in relation to a complaint made under subsection (1D) of section 42, a panel may consider—
(a) the information contained in a vetting disclosure referred to in that subsection in so far as the information grounds the complaint under, and in accordance with, that subsection, and
(b) submissions (if any) made by the registered teacher concerned under subsection (7)(a)(ii) of section 42 in so far as the submissions relate to that vetting disclosure.
(8) For the purposes of an inquiry under section 43 in relation to a complaint made under subsection (1)(g) to which subsection (1E) applies, a panel may consider—
(a) the information contained in a vetting disclosure referred to in subsection (1E) in so far as the information grounds the complaint under subsection (1)(g), and
(b) submissions (if any) made by the registered teacher concerned under subsection (7)(a)(ii) of section 42 in so far as the submissions relate to that vetting disclosure.”.”.

This is largely a technical amendment to transfer the provisions in subsections (1) to (6), inclusive, from Schedule 3 to the 2001 Act, as amended by the Bill, into a new section 43A. The new section 43A separately sets outs the relevant provisions of the Bill relating to the use and assessment of vetting disclosure by a panel undertaking an inquiry under section 43.

In addition to the provisions which were previously in Schedule 3, additional provisions in subsections (7) and (8) of the new section make it clear that a panel may also consider information in a vetting disclosure where the council has made a complaint, under the relevant provisions of section 42, in respect of that information and that the panel can consider information in that disclosure only in so far as it grounds that complaint and relates to the conduct which is the subject of the complaint. It also allows the panel to consider any submission the teacher may have made on that vetting disclosure.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 43:
Section 18: In page 22, between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following:
“Offences - panel inquiry
19. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 43A:
“Offences - panel inquiry
43B. (1) A person commits an offence where he or she—
(a) on being summoned to attend before a panel for the purpose of an inquiry under section 43, fails to attend,
(b) in attendance as a witness before a panel under section 43, refuses—
(i) to take an oath lawfully required by the panel to be taken,
(ii) to produce any document in his or her power or control lawfully
required by the panel to be produced by him or her, or
(iii) to answer any question to which the panel may lawfully require an answer,
or
(c) in attendance before a panel, does anything which, if the panel were a court of law having power to commit for contempt, would be contempt of court.
(2) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) shall be liable on summary conviction to a class C fine.”.”.

This amendment provides that a person commits an offence in the course of an inquiry when he or she fails to attend having been summoned, refuses to take an oath, refuses to produce any document in his or her power or control lawfully required by the panel or refuses to answer a question. In addition, it is an offence if a person does anything which, if the panel were a court of law, would be contempt of court. The amendment provides that a person who commits an offence will be liable on summary conviction to a class C fine. These matters were already included as offences in the 2001 Act, but references need to be updated to reflect that it is the panel which is conducting the inquiry and making decisions. The inclusion of the words "a class C fine" in place of a fine of "£1,905" updates the provision in accordance with the more current legislative approach.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 44:
Section 18: In page 22, between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following:
“Withdrawal of complaint
20. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 43B:
“Withdrawal of complaint
43C. Where a complaint is withdrawn by the complainant—
(a) while it is being considered by the Investigating Committee, the Committee may, with the agreement of the Council—
(i) decide that no further action is to be taken in relation to the matter the subject of the complaint, or
(ii) proceed as if the complaint had not been withdrawn,
or
(b) while it is being considered by a panel, the panel may, with the agreement of the Council—
(i) decide that no further action is to be taken in relation to the matter the subject of the complaint, or
(ii) proceed as if the complaint had not been withdrawn.”.”.

This amendment provides that where a complaint is withdrawn by the complainant while it is being considered by the investigating committee or where it has progressed to a panel inquiry, the committee or the panel may, with the agreement of the council, decide either that no further action is to be taken or proceed as if the complaint had not been withdrawn. This is to prevent a situation where the investigating committee or the panel are obliged to proceed with a complaint, even if it has been withdrawn and the committee or panel sees no reason to proceed. Of course, the committee or panel may also decide to proceed if that is deemed to be appropriate.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 45:
Section 18: In page 22, to delete lines 38 and 39, and in page 23, to delete line 1 and substitute the following:
“ “(1) Subject to subsection (1A), the panel may, having completed its report under paragraph (b) or paragraph (c) (as the case may be) of subsection (17) of section 43, make a decision—”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 46:
Section 18: In page 23, lines 5 and 6, to delete “Disciplinary Committee” and substitute “panel”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 47:
Section 18: In page 23, line 8, to delete “Disciplinary Committee” and substitute “panel”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 48:
Section 18: In page 23, line 15, to delete “Disciplinary Committee” and substitute “panel”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 49:
Section 18: In page 23, line 19, to delete “Disciplinary Committee” and substitute “panel”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos 50 and 53 are related and will be discussed together.

Seanad amendment No. 50:
Section 18: In page 23, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:
“(b) by the insertion of the following new subsection after subsection (1):
“(1A) If the report referred to in subsection (1) contains the measures included in a consent or undertaking in accordance with section 43(17)
(b)(iii), then the panel shall make a decision to confirm those measures.”,”.

I have already outlined amendment No. 41 which provides, inter alia, that a panel may request a teacher to give certain undertakings or consent to certain measures. Amendment No. 50 is necessary to provide that in such circumstances the panel will make a decision to confirm these measures.

Amendment No. 53 ensures such decisions which are arrived at on foot of voluntary agreement by the teacher are not subject to an application by the Teaching Council to the High Court for confirmation of the decision.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No 51:
Section 18: In page 23, to delete line 21 and substitute the following:
“(c) in subsection (2)—
(i) by the substitution of “The Disciplinary Committee shall” for “The Director
shall”, and
(ii) in paragraph (a), by the substitution of “the complainant” for “the applicant”.”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 52:
Section 18: In page 23, to delete lines 22 to 27 and substitute the following:
“(c) in subsection (3)—
(i) by the substitution of “A registered teacher may, within 21 days of the date of service of a notice under subsection (2), apply to the High Court for annulment of the decision (other than a decision to advise, admonish or censure under subsection (1)(d) or a decision under subsection (1A))” for “A registered teacher may, within 21 days of the date of service of a notice under subsection (2), apply to the High Court for annulment of the decision”, and
(ii) in paragraph (c), by the deletion of “of the Disciplinary Committee”,”.

This is an additional amendment to section 44(3) of the principal Act which deals with the removal, suspension or retention of a teacher on the register following an inquiry. The amendment provides that measures entered into by a teacher voluntarily are not appealable to the High Court. It deletes the words “of the Disciplinary Committee” from the phrase “vary the decision of the Disciplinary Committee”. It is considered that these words are unnecessary in the context of the purpose of the section.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 53:
Section 18: In page 23, lines 29 and 30, to delete “(other than a decision to advise, admonish or censure under subsection (1)(d))” and substitute the following:
“(other than a decision to advise, admonish or censure under subsection (1)(d) or a decision under subsection (1A))”.
Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 54:
Section 20: In page 24, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following:
“Notification to Minister, employer and other body of certain matters relating to sanctions
20. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 46:
“Notification to Minister, employer and other body of certain matters relating to sanctions
46A. (1) Where it comes to the Council’s attention that, under the law of a state other than the State, a decision corresponding to a decision referred to in any of paragraphs (a) to (d) of section 44(1) has been taken in relation to a registered teacher, the Council shall, as soon as practicable, give notice in writing to the Minister and where the registered teacher is employed as a teacher, to his or her employer (if known), of the decision.
(2) Where—
(a) a decision takes effect under this Part in relation to a registered teacher to remove the teacher from the register, suspend the teacher from the register, retain the teacher on the register subject to conditions or to advise, censure or admonish the teacher, and
(b) the Council has reason to believe that—
(i) the teacher is registered in another jurisdiction, and
(ii) the decision referred to in paragraph (a) may not have come to the attention of a body duly authorised to perform functions in that jurisdiction that correspond to the functions of the Council, the Council shall give notice in writing to the body of the decision referred to in paragraph (a).”.”.

Amendment No. 54 inserts a new section into the Act and provides that, where it comes to the Teaching Council’s attention that a decision to sanction a registered teacher has been made in another state, the council will, as soon as practicable, inform the Minister and the teacher’s employer, where relevant. The amendment further provides for the Teaching Council, where it has reached a decision to sanction a teacher, to inform the appropriate body in another jurisdiction of that decision, where it has reason to believe the teacher is registered in that jurisdiction and that the body may not be aware of the decision.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 55:
Section 20: In page 24, between lines 24 and 25, to insert the following:
“Information Council may publish in public interest
21. The Principal Act is amended by the insertion of the following section after section 46A:
“Information Council may publish in the public interest
46B. The Council, if satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so shall—
(a) advise the public when—
(i) a decision takes effect under this Part in relation to a registered teacher to remove the teacher from the register, suspend the teacher from the register, retain the teacher on the register subject to conditions or to advise, censure or admonish the teacher, or
(ii) a decision referred to in section 46A(1) comes to the attention of the Council,
and
(b) following consultation with the Disciplinary Committee, publish (with or without any information which would enable any party to an inquiry to be identified)—
(i) the findings of a panel under section 43(17)(b), and
(ii) the decision of a panel under section 44(1).”.”.

Section 46B was introduced as an amendment on Committee Stage in the Seanad to provide for the publication of certain information on the outcomes of fitness to teach inquiries. It was further amended on Report Stage in the Seanad to set out in a clearer manner the provisions in relation to the circumstances in which the council would inform the public of such information. It provides that the council shall, where satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so, advise the public when, on foot of a fitness to teach inquiry, a decision takes effect to remove a teacher from the register, suspend a teacher from the register, retain the teacher on the register subject to conditions, or advise, admonish or censure a teacher, or, where a similar decision taken in another state comes to the attention of the council. It also provides that the council shall, where satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so and following consultation with the disciplinary committee, publish decisions made by a panel following a fitness to teach inquiry and, where there has been a finding against the teacher, publish that finding.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 56:
Section 21: In page 25, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:
“Amendment to section 60 of Principal Act
21. The Principal Act is amended by the substitution of the following section for section 60:
“Non-admissibility of certain evidence
60. A statement or admission made by a person to a panel in relation to a complaint brought under Part 5 shall not be admissible as evidence in proceedings brought against the person for an offence (other than an offence under section 43B).”.”.

Amendment No. 56 replaces the current section 60 of the principal Act and concerns the non-admissibility of a statement or admission made by a person to a panel in relation to a complaint in other proceedings. It does not apply, however, where a person commits an offence in respect of a panel inquiry. The proposed amendment follows the form of non-admissibility provisions in more recent legislation than the original Teaching Council Act.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendment No. 57:
Section 21: In page 25, to delete lines 4 to 40, and in page 26, to delete lines 1 to 22 and substitute the following:
“Amendment to Schedule 3 to Principal Act
22. The Principal Act is amended by the substitution of the following Schedule for Schedule 3:
“SCHEDULE 3
Section 43
PANEL
1. Notwithstanding any vacancies in the membership of the Disciplinary Committee, a panel may be appointed from among the members of that Committee.
2. The procedures of a panel shall be laid down from time to time in rules made by the Council with the consent of the Minister.
3. The Disciplinary Committee shall appoint the chairperson of a panel from among the members of the panel.
4. The Council shall make available to the panel such services, including staff, as the panel may reasonably require.”.”.

This is the amendment for which the Deputy was looking. Amendment No. 57 concerns the appointment of a panel to conduct an inquiry under section 43. The amendment proposes the replacement of Schedule 3 of the principal Act. Much of the detail of Schedule 3 is now dealt with in the proposed amendment to section 43. Accordingly, this is essentially a structural amendment and all of its provisions already exist in the principal Act. Acceptance of this amendment involves the deletion of section 21, which included the provisions for the panel that are now included in the proposed amendment.

Does this amendment relate to public hearings?

It reads: "Notwithstanding any vacancies in the membership of the Disciplinary Committee, a panel may be appointed from among the members of that Committee." It does not relate to public hearings.

Seanad amendment agreed to.
Seanad amendments reported.

A message will be sent to Seanad Éireann acquainting it accordingly. I thank the Minister of State and Deputies.