The Pedagogical Oath

Should teachers with anti-social views be allowed to teach? I think not. I was appalled when a member of the BNP was not drummed out of the profession in May last year (see ). So, I started thinking….. couldn’t teachers and youth workers, indeed all who work with young people, be required to sign up to, or swear a Pedagogical Oath, as Doctors swear a Hippocratic Oath I think we should. But what would it contain? Well, I’ve been banging about interdependence (not independence) and the importance of values and ethical, or moral purpose for a while and so I drafted an initial version.

I trialled the draft with over 200 newly qualified teachers and about as many serving teachers, heads and advisers. I asked if they would sign it, or even swear it. No one had problems with it and many said they would happily sign it. I’ve even had interest from the Children’s Commissioner’s Office. Would you sign it?

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

  1. I accept my responsibility in loco parentis and will always act in the ways of a good and thoughtful parent, or guardian.
  2. My vision is for learners, of all ages, to reach their full potential and work, interdependently, for the common good of others.
  3. I will create the best learning experiences I am able to, believing education to be discovering the knowledge, understanding and skills we need to be confident citizens in the global community.
  4. I will uphold and disseminate the articles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  5. Whilst I may work with groups, I know learning takes place in the minds of individuals and so my care, best efforts and respect will be given equally and unconditionally to all within my charge.
  6. I recognise there is an art to working with learners and that warmth, sympathy and understanding must always balance the important pressures to impart information, deliver programmes, pursue academic excellence and expect high standards of behaviour.
  7. I will expect learners to challenge injustice, reduce harm, protect the vulnerable and isolated and sustain and improve the natural world.
  8. I will respect the confidentiality of my students, within the limits of the law.
  9. I will draw from the wisdom of those in whose steps I walk and gladly share such learning as is mine with those who follow. I will not be ashamed to say “I don’t know”, or fail to call on colleagues when their help is needed.
  10. I will study the effect and impact of all I do, in order to do it better next time.

Please send comments, amendments or additions to John Pearce [email protected]

John Pearce is an ex head, adviser and inspector who is now an international school improvement consultant. His signature work is


1 thought on “The Pedagogical Oath”

  1. Sir
    I am an ex care leaver of the 70’s. Your proposal above indicates just how far your profession has evolved, and I feel I must give credit where it is due.

    Thank you for your dedication and kindness towards vulnerable children and young adults that you encounter throughout your careers.

    Each and everyone of you, will reap the rewards and benefits which will be bestowed upon you personally, along with the communities we all live in. Regards. Andy


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