1 Jul 2015

Teachers lack faith in new council, say unions

9:54 am on 1 July 2015

The new body for keeping teachers in line comes into being today despite resistance and resentment from the very people it is supposed to be leading.

Science teacher

Photo: 123rf

The Education Council (Educanz) replaces the Teachers Council, and is responsible for registering and disciplining teachers.

It will still regulate who becomes a teacher and impose sanctions when they offend. But it will also develop a code of conduct, comment on education issues, and lead the teaching profession.

Teacher unions say the council's role has been expanded too far and teachers will not recognise its leadership role because none of its members are elected - they have all been selected by the Education Minister, Hekia Parata.

Secretary of the Educational Institute Paul Goulter said that change was a big mistake.

"The Government has completely messed this up. It's no longer an organisation for teachers, by teachers and with teachers.

"The governance of it is a complete mess, they're all appointed by the minister, there's no sense within the teaching profession that they own this, and this is going to cause a lot of difficulties downstream for this council."

Mr Goulter said the lack of direct representation by the people who were paying for the council - teachers - completely undermined its role of leading the teaching profession.

The Post Primary Teachers Association wrote to the council's nine members recently telling them the organisation would never be anything more than a highly unpopular and coercive arm of the government.

The union's president Angela Roberts said the council's work had been expanded too far beyond registering and disciplining teachers.

"There's huge risk, potentially. Their core business, which is the regulation of the profession, has become only a part of what they've been charged to do by the minister and by the legislation.

"Given that it's a really complicated place to be looking at regulation at the moment, there is a risk they are not going to do their core business properly."

Ms Roberts said the PPTA's members would do the bare minimum to comply with the council.

"They will continue to do the work that they need to do to remain registered. They are committed to the registration process. But they certainly won't be engaging in any consultation around things like the auditing processes that are going to be dumped on schools."

But the council's chairperson, Barbara Ala'alatoa, said most teachers she had met were not opposed to the new organisation.

"Quite often they're more curious about how the council will be different to what has gone before, because what they've seen before is possibly a council that has been more on the regulatory kind of side of things as opposed to thinking that we will actually have an Education Council that is about putting leadership and teaching right up front."

Ms Ala'alatoa said the council would weigh in on public debates about education problems and she expected it would win over its doubters.

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