One would expect one's professional body, in this case the Education Council of New Zealand, to stand up for the profession and look at the important things that need changing. For instance, the absolutely barmy rules around restraint that have most of us in fear that we will end up doing something wrong.

Have we heard their voice championing common sense on such an important matter? Don't be silly.

I have earned the ire of this illustrious body because I recently stated that one of the reasons why no one was keen to be a teacher was the absolute rubbish that the profession was being subjected to by a PC-orientated Council, that teachers were being subjected to prosecution and punishment by this so-called representative body for minor things, things, that to be honest, 99 per cent of the public would say "So what?" if they knew about them.

Two cases recently:

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A teacher directed a five year old to go where they should go by putting her hands on the child's shoulders and pushing him to his table because he was being naughty and refused to do as told. Result — the teacher was sent to a Complaints Assessment Committee, and then from there to the Disciplinary Tribunal and censure.

Another teacher had a five year old throw a crayon on the ground in defiance. He took the child's arm and pulled him to where the crayon was and made him pick it up. The child alleged he fell and hit his head, but there was no real evidence of this. Result —teacher censured and has given up teaching forever.

This is arrant nonsense, and for the teaching profession, currently reeling from having to deal with unworkable restraint rules, this sort of behaviour, no matter what the out-of-touch council believes, does nothing to make teachers believe in fairness and common sense, or that someone's got their backs.

The council has sent a rebuttal to the Northland Age (Kids' safety comes first, letters February 14). They claim they had no choice. Again arrant nonsense. At least one of the cases could have been dealt with by the Complaints Assessment Committee, as it was accepted as minor.

No matter that the council doesn't understand its own legislation. Under the Act there is no requirement for the council to impose punishment. There is no requirement to refer matters on if not deemed serious misconduct, if agreement can't be reached between parties.

The Act allows them to. It doesn't say it must happen.

The intent of any legislation, when one is interpreting it, is crucial. Was it the intent of the MPs

when passing the relevant Act to have teachers prosecuted and punished for such minor behaviour?

It is sad when one's own body doesn't actually understand its own legislation, and seems more concerned in pushing penalties for minor infractions than acting positively and independently on behalf of our profession.

PAT NEWMAN
President , Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Assn