Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Teach First agreement undermined - PPTA

The Teach First scheme places selected graduates into teaching positions that are not advertised. Photo: iStock
The Teach First scheme places selected graduates into teaching positions that are not advertised. Photo: iStock

Opposition that led to a legal challenge against a popular teaching scheme that puts top university graduates in low decile schools could be reignited, the Post Primary Teachers Association says.

The union had taken legal action, which saw the Employment Relations Authority rule that the Teach First scheme had been breaking the law.

That was because it places selected graduates into teaching positions that are not advertised.

With the long-term future of the programme unclear, a crucial agreement was reached between the Ministry of Education, Teach First NZ, the University of Auckland and PPTA.

All parties agreed that Teach First NZ participants will now apply and be considered for jobs in schools alongside other teachers.

PPTA president Angela Roberts said it seemed that agreement had now been undermined.

The union understands the government has introduced a supplementary order paper to the Education Legislation Bill, which is currently being considered by the education select committee.

The PPTA understands it would change the proposed legislation to create a separate employment process for student teachers, meaning positions would not need to be advertised.

"The agreement we reached with the Ministry, Teach First and Auckland University resolved the situation satisfactorily for all the parties, or so we understood at the time" Ms Roberts said.

"Now the Minister is cutting right across the agreement we reached earlier this year. Not only is there no good faith in this action, she is actually undermining the Teach First programme by clumsily offering them preferential legal status that they do not need.

"There are some real risks involved in changing the law around appointments to schools - anything which weakens the transparency and fair process requirements would have to be done very carefully and with a very good rationale. We would be keen to be able to submit on this, as would many others in the sector."

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Hekia Parata said she was unable to comment on the matter as it was before the select committee, and to do so would be a breach of privilege.

- NZ Herald

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