A proposed hike in teachers' registration fees has been met with mixed reactions from Northland educators with some saying the proposal makes them feel undervalued and others saying it's necessary.
The Teaching Council, the professional body for the teaching profession, is consulting with teachers regarding registration fees as what teachers are paying only covers 40 per cent of the spending required to carry out the council's functions.
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A registered teacher renewing a current practising certificate pays $220.80 for three years, but the two options put forward for vote propose to increase that number to $470 or $500.
A graduate applying for registration and provisional practising certificate currently pays $220.80 for three years and the two options proposed for them are $300 or $470.
Ferne Swanson, head teacher at Kamo Tots - part of Kamo Childcare Centre, said while the centre she works at pays teachers' registration fees, she worried they would no longer be able to do that if the price increased.
She said she was "surprised" to see the proposal, particularly as early childhood teachers are fighting for better pay.
"I feel like we're not appreciated for what we actually do. A lot of people think we're babysitting - like we just go and look after children - but it's totally not like that at all."
While the increase equates to $3 or $3.19 per week - an increase of $1.64 a week on what's currently being paid - Swanson said that was a loaf of bread for some families.
"We have got some teachers that budget and they're right down to the last cent, and that's really worrying for my team. I have quality teachers here and if I was to lose them because they couldn't keep up with their registration fees, that would be horrible."
Since its establishment in 2015 the Teaching Council has received a significant amount of funding from the Government on the understanding it would be financially independent from July.
A council spokeswoman said the council was concerned it would be unable to deliver its statutory obligations with the current fees.
"We understand the concern of some teachers. The council has considered alternative options including reducing operating costs - and indeed we have taken steps to reduce costs borne by the profession, such as taking the application process online.
"The situation isn't helped by the fact fees have not changed since 2010 and in that time costs have risen and our functions broadened," a spokeswoman said.
Myles Ferris, principal of Te Kura o Otangarei, said he understood the need for an increase.
"I just think the need for the Teaching Council to be independent is really important and there is a cost to that. We've had a lot of years where the Government has interfered with Teaching Council and I don't believe it's right for them to have that level of interference," he said.
NZEI president Liam Rutherford said the union was surveying members about the proposal.
"The proposed fees change is a significant increase that will be felt by teachers, many are upset, especially as this landed at the start of the year. Part-timers and low paid early childhood teachers will be particularly affected."
Hora Hora Primary School principal Pat Newman, who is on the Teaching Council but was speaking in his role as principal, said the proposal was "necessary".
"In the past the council has been a Government quango. In the previous day when national standards were on, people wanted the council to stand up against it and we couldn't do it because we were a Government quango. We're now totally independent, charged with looking after the profession and ensuring that the public has confidence."
The Teaching Council spokeswoman said no decision has been made on the proposed fees increase and it will carefully consider all the feedback before making a final decision.
Teachers can visit teachingcouncil.nz/content/fees-consultation for more information.