RULES banning teachers from befriending students on Facebook or other social networks are being imposed for the first time by the Teaching Council.
THE council, which regulates teaching in Ireland, has agreed a new Code of Conduct which sets out what is appropriate contact between teachers and students through social media.
The new rules are being brought into use following the growing incidences of teachers and pupils becoming victims of abuse, bullying, insults and other inappropriate behaviour on networking sites.
Four fifth-year pupils, including the son of a TD, were expelled from a Dublin school in recent weeks after the posting of sexually abusive remarks about a male and female teacher on Facebook.
The actions at Oatlands College in Stillorgan were the latest in a growing number of incidents of abuse of such sites around Ireland which has caused deepening concern to school authorities nationwide.
The new code warns teachers that "any communications" with their students must be appropriate, including communications through emails, texts and social network sites.
Teachers will be deemed to have breached the new Code of Conduct if they posted inappropriate photographs and a Facebook page that was accessible to the public, according to a report published in today's Irish Times.
The new rules were agreed last week by the Teaching Council which consists of school management bodies, teachers' unions, parents groups and other interests.
The Dail is expected to approve new disciplinary procedures being adopted by the Council which gives it the power to suspend teachers or to strike them off the register of the Teaching Council.
The new code also bans teachers giving one-to-one grinds to pupils for money or any practices that could cause conflict between a teacher's professional duties and private actions.