Minister could appoint Teachers Council members

By Kate Shuttleworth

The teachers name may not be suppressed before the court, but the Teachers Council suppress the majority of names in decisions published on its website. Photo / Thinkstock
The teachers name may not be suppressed before the court, but the Teachers Council suppress the majority of names in decisions published on its website. Photo / Thinkstock

The Minister of Education could be given the power to appoint Teachers Council members and the council could be rebranded as part of sweeping changes.

A review released today has recommended widespread changes to the body that issues practicing certificates and registration for teachers.

The review committee made 24 recommendation on the Teachers Council's role and functions, and has set up a ministerial advisory group to do the work.

Last year the Teachers Council posted a note on its website deciding to enforce a little known rule that allows the council to fine $1000 for breaching name suppression.

The council supresses most teachers' names. The review did not touch on this matter.

Last year Education Minister Hekia Parata called for a review four months after a report was released on sex offender Henry Te Rito Miki, who bypassed the council by teaching illegally in six North Island Schools.

The committee has recommended all the 11 members on the board of the Teachers Council should be appointed by the Minister of Education and should all be knowledgeable about education; have successful governance experience in education and other fields.

Previously they were selected from the education sector, through nominations from registered teachers and teachers unions.

Among the changes were an increase in fees, a call to rename the council, a recommendation to separate registration for the issuing of a practising certificate and introducing a new category called "authority of educate".

Currently teachers are required to renew their registration and licence to practice every three years.

A fully registered teacher must successfully complete an approved training course, undertake a period of practice under supervision and be assessed as competent to practice.

The review committee found the current arrangements do not encourage teachers to continue to develop their professional practice.

It recommended the authority to practice teaching should be renewed regularly, as with current practising certificates, bringing it in line with other professions like the medical and engineering fields.

The committee has called of the Teachers Council to be renamed.

"A new body with the purpose of creating a stronger and more vibrant profession needs a name to encapsulate its importance. The name should reflect the membership and the vision of enhanced status and professionalism of teaching and leadership in education.

Suggestions are Council of New Zealand Educators, Education Council of New Zealand and Aotearoa Educators and Leaders.

Early childhood teachers will be brought under the umbrella of the Teachers Council.

The cost of teachers getting their practising certificate may also rise from $220.80 every three years ($73.60 a year).

The review committee said this was the lowest professional fee paid in New Zealand, compared with annual fees of $110 for registered nurses, $227 - $315 for social workers and $418.60 for professional engineers and $1451.30 for lawyers.

Director of the Teachers Council Peter Lind issued a statement saying he was looking forward to working with the advisory group.

The Ministerial advisory group will lead consultation on proposed changes to the Teachers Council and registration of teachers, and report back to Ms Parata.

NZEI President Judith Nowotarski says the new body would need to be truly independent of Government if it is to have teachers' confidence.

They will be attending meetings around the country.

Submissions on the proposals are due by July 14.

- APNZ

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