Those who pursue a vocation in which knowledge and skills are offered in the service of the affairs of others have responsibilities and obligations to those who rely on and are affected by their work. It is the duty of the governing professional body to identify those responsibilities and obligations and codify them for the benefit of both the providers and recipients of such skills.
This Code of Ethics and the Ethical Provisions, which it comprises, seek to meet that duty.
The Code of Ethics expresses the Association’s recognition of its responsibility to the public, and to colleagues. It guides members in the performance of their professional responsibilities and expresses the basic tenets of ethical and professional conduct. The Code of Ethics calls for an unswerving commitment to honourable behaviour.
The public interest
3.1 A distinguishing mark of a profession is acceptance of its responsibilities to the public. The Executive Officers profession’s public consists of clients (Students and Parents), Principals, Staff, Government, Board of Trustees, the community and others who rely on the objectivity and integrity of Executive Officers to maintain the orderly functioning of schools. This reliance imposes a public interest responsibility on Executive Officers. The public interest is defined as the collective well being of the community of people and institutions the profession serves.
3.2 In discharging their professional responsibilities, members may encounter conflicting pressures from within each of these groups. In resolving those conflicts, members should act with integrity, guided by the precept that clients’ interests are best served when members fulfil their responsibility to the public whilst recognising the need to meet all of the obligations inherent in the members individual employment relationship.
3.3 Those who rely on Executive Officers expect them to discharge their responsibilities with integrity, due professional care, and a genuine interest in serving the public. They are expected to provide quality services in a manner that demonstrates a level of professionalism consistent with these Ethical Provisions.
3.4 All who accept membership to the School Executive Officers’ Association commit themselves to honour the public trust. In return for the faith that the public places in them, members should seek continually to demonstrate their dedication to professional excellence.
All members are bound to comply with the Code of Ethics. Members should be able to demonstrate that their actions comply with the Code of Ethics.
5.1 The maintenance of discipline and good conduct depends on a number of fundamental principles which are characteristic of a calling which regards itself as a profession. Observance of these fundamental principles is central to the public interest.
5.2 The fundamental principles guide members of a profession in the performance of their professional responsibilities and express the basic tenets of ethical and professional conduct.
5.3 The fundamental principles are:
- 5.3.1 Integrity. Members should be straightforward, honest and sincere in their approach to their professional work.
- 5.3.2 Objectivity. Members should be impartial, intellectually honest and always willing to identify and declare any actual or potential conflicts of interest.
- 5.3.3 Professional Competence. Members have a duty to maintain a high standard of competence throughout their professional careers.
- 5.3.4 Technical Standards. Members should carry out their professional work in accordance with the technical and professional standards appropriate to that work.
- 5.3.5 Professional Behaviour. Members should conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the good reputation of the profession and refrain from any conduct which might bring discredit to the profession.
- 5.3.6 Confidentiality. Members should respect the confidentiality of information acquired in the course of their work and should not disclose such information to a third party without specific authority or unless there is a legal or professional duty to disclose.
- 5.3.7 Independence. Independence in the sense of being self reliant and not subordinate is essential to the practice of all professions. In all phases of work members should be independent in the general sense of the word.
6.1 Compliance with the Code of Ethics
Compliance with the Code of Ethics, as with all standards in an open society, depends primarily on members’ acceptance of their responsibilities to act ethically, and their voluntary actions to meet these responsibilities, and secondarily on reinforcement by peers and public opinion, and ultimately on disciplinary proceedings.
Acts of misconduct are those which are inconsistent with the due and faithful discharge by a member of the duties of service including but not limited to dishonesty, breach of confidence, violence, insolence.
No fixed rule can be laid down regarding misconduct – it is a question of degree in each individual case.
In general, the misconduct should be such as to interfere with and prejudice the safe and proper conduct of the Association’s business or be serious enough to destroy or deeply impair basic confidence and trust essential to a Member’s relationship with the Association.
6.2 Disciplinary proceedings
Refer SEO Assn. Rules (Constitution 2001) Section 11 Misconduct
In any case of alleged misconduct which may lead to disciplinary action being taken, the Association should ensure that a correct procedure is followed, taking into account the requirements of procedural fairness. Disciplinary action must be substantively justifiable and procedurally fair.
The minimum standards for procedural fairness are:
- 1. The member must receive notice of the specific allegation of misconduct and the likely consequences should the allegation be established.
- 2. There must be a real opportunity to explain or refute the allegation.
- 3. There must be unbiased consideration of the explanation.
To ensure the minimum standards are met the following steps should be taken:
- 1. Investigate the complaint fully and fairly as soon as possible after the event giving rise to the complaint.
- 2. Interview the Member, seeking an explanation. The member must be advised of the details of the complaint in advance and given the opportunity to be represented at the interview.
- 3. Investigate further if necessary and decide on appropriate action.
- 4. Meet with the Member again and communicate the decision taken. The member must be given the opportunity to appeal the decision.
The Disciplinary proceedings are administered by three committees appointed by the National Executive. Each operates independently but includes at least one member of the National Executive. These are:
- (a) Investigation Committee: This committee comprising of three (3) members appointed by the National Executive is responsible for investigating complaints to determine whether in its opinion there has been a case of misconduct, then it may refer the case to the Disciplinary Committee.
- (b) Disciplinary Committee: This committee comprising of three (3) members appointed by the National Executive is responsible for hearing complaints referred to it by the Investigation Committee. It exercises the disciplinary powers conferred on it by the Association.
- (c) Committee of Appeal: This committee comprising of the President of the SEO Assn. and any Life Members is responsible for hearing appeals against decisions of the Disciplinary Committee. It may confirm, vary or reverse the decision to which the appeal relates.
6.3 The provisions of the Code
The provisions of the Code of Ethics do not exhaust the moral and ethical considerations that should govern a member, but they guide a member in the ethical practice of the profession.
Ethical Provisions: Descriptions and designations
- EP1 Use of the description “Executive Officer”. An executive officer means an employee in a school who is responsible to the Principal and/or Board of Trustees for administration, finance and/or property and/or support staff management.
- EP2 Use of the description “Association”. The Association means the School Executive Officers’ Association Inc.
- EP3 Use of the description “member”. A member, being a member of the School Executive Officers’ Association Inc.
Matters affecting service to schools and standards of work
- EP4 Professional Conduct and Competence. No member shall do any act or make any omission in the course of performing professional duties that is likely to discredit that member or any other members, or the Association, whether or not that act or omission is specifically referred to in any Ethical Provision of the code of Ethics.
- EP5 A member has a duty to observe and maintain a high standard of professional competence throughout the members’ professional career.
- EP6 A member who accepts professional employment implies that the member has the necessary competence to carry out the work and will apply the member’s knowledge, skill and experience with reasonable care and diligence.
- EP7 A member has a continuing duty to maintain professional knowledge and skills at a level required to ensure that the member’s school receive competent and professional service based on up to date developments and practice, legislation and techniques.
- EP8 Members Responsibility for Conduct of Others. A member shall not permit others to carry out on the member’s behalf acts which if carried out by the member, would place the member in breach of the Code of Ethics or the rules of the Association.
- EP9 Amendments to the code of Ethics. Every member shall observe and comply with every resolution of the Association which is expressed to be supplemental to or by way of explanation or elaboration of the code of Ethics, to the same extent as if the resolution had originally formed part of the code of Ethics, provided that such resolution shall become effective for this purpose until notice of it has been given to each member and voted on at a general meeting.