Govt, advisors quarrel over teacher registration

By Kate Shuttleworth

Green Party's Catherine Delahunty is calling on Education Minister Hekia Parata to clarify whether teaching qualifications will be optional for people wanting teacher registration. Photo / Thinkstock
Green Party's Catherine Delahunty is calling on Education Minister Hekia Parata to clarify whether teaching qualifications will be optional for people wanting teacher registration. Photo / Thinkstock

The head of the group advising the Government on how to set up charter schools is calling for people who have no teaching qualifications to be given official teacher registration - a call at odds with Government.

Chairwoman Catherine Issac says this would include people with PhDs or degrees in science, engineering or languages being recognised as qualified teachers by the Teachers' Council.

She said the current rule that allows unqualified teachers to stand at the front of a classroom - the Limited Authority to Teach - is too restrictive.

"It's only a temp certification and they have a limited time to be in a school ... it doesn't certify that a person is skilled or experienced."

She said her comments had been misinterpreted by media earlier in the day and she wants flexibility for exceptional individuals, not sweeping changes.

The Teachers Council, the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) and the New Zealand Education Institute oppose the idea, saying teacher registration is an important mechanism ensuring people are competent to teach children.

A spokeswoman for Associate Minister of Education John Banks said the Government had no plans for teachers for teachers who are teaching as part of a charter school contract to be automatically registered with the Teachers Council.

Teachers Council director Peter Lind likened experts and highly qualified individuals wanting to teach to top sports players wanting to coach.

"We have some very high performing athletes including the All Blacks who are outstanding who want to be coaches, and what they've found is it's quite different from performing on the field."

He said teaching qualifications and registration was based on sound international practice.

President of the PPTA Robin Duff was "appalled" by the idea and said the craft of teaching was taught through teacher training.

"I certainly wouldn't be as enthusiastic about having a brain surgeon working on me who simply had passion and a little bit of skill.

Green Party spokeswoman for education Catherine Delahunty questioned whether there would be any point in training as a teacher.

She is calling on Education Minister Hekia Parata to clarify whether teaching qualifications will be optional for people wanting teacher registration.

"Catherine Isaac seems to be totally unaware that teachers are already required to have a degree in those and other subjects before they embark on an additional year of training in teaching.

"It's almost as if she's saying there's no point in a professional education degree. The Government is sending out some very mixed messages and Isaac's is just muddying the waters even further over whether we value the profession."

Labour's education spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta said Mrs Isaac was out of step with Education Minister Hekia Parata and Associate Minister of Education John Banks.

"I don't think she's gone through and seen whether the working groups recommendations align with the bill that's being proposed.

"The process for recognising qualification standards is the Teachers Council, and any departure from that is setting up a whole new professional standard."

- APNZ

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