Banks defends charter decision

Associate Minister John Banks. Photo / Janna Dixon
Associate Minister John Banks. Photo / Janna Dixon

Associate Education Minister John Banks has defended his support for non-registered teachers working in charter schools in the wake of criticism from political opponents and unions.

Last month Mr Banks and Education Minister Hekia Parata announced that charter schools would be able to negotiate a percentage of unregistered teachers.

That came despite a Ministry of Education recommendation that all teacher be registered to give students the greatest learning opportunities.

The recommendation, written before the decision and released last week, warned there was a high potential for a negative impact on students' education from teachers who did not meet minimum standards.

"Teacher registration is one the most influential levers in raising teacher quality across the profession in both state and private schools," the ministry said. "Allowing charter schools to stand outside this work will significantly damage the credibility of the Crown.''

The ministry put forward four options for registered teaching staff in charter schools.

Banks recommended the third option in his Cabinet paper signed off in July, for charter schools to be able to negotiate a percentage of unregistered teachers.

Labour education spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta said by ignoring its ministry's advice, the Government had put the education and safety of charter school children at risk.

She said the policy was "reckless''.

"The Government quite rightly makes a song and dance about teacher quality. But its decision on charter school teachers shows it is all talk. It doesn't really care at all."

But Mr Banks said today (Wednesday) that charter schools who wanted to hire unregistered teachers would have to prove they had the knowledge and skills to deliver the school's curriculum. All staff would be police vetted.

"Teachers registered with the Teachers' Council are just one of many types of personnel in the existing system. Just because a teacher isn't registered doesn't mean they aren't qualified to be there.''

Education union NZEI said the decision to allow unregistered teachers in charter schools had put the Government's ideology ahead of quality education for students.

"We believe every child deserves success at school with the help and support of a qualified and registered professional,'' said president Ian Leckie.

- APNZ

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