Below is the official outline what is in The Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand) Amendment Bill currently before parliament:
The purpose of the Teaching Council (the Council) is to ensure safe and high quality leadership, teaching, and learning for children and young people in early childhood, primary, secondary, and senior secondary schooling in English medium and Māori medium settings through raising the status of the profession.
It stands to reason, therefore, that the governance of the council should be directly elected by, and representative of, the teaching profession as well as appointed lay representatives, and that its name should reflect the central role teaching plays in quality education.
The teaching profession has less control of its affairs than most professions.
For example, the current Council provisions contrast with how members are chosen for the Nursing Council. In 2009, the-then Health Minister Tony Ryall led the modification of that appointment system to enable nurses to elect members of the council.
The rationale for that move was that it was an important step toward giving nurses greater say in decisions affecting scopes of practice, competence and safety.
The Education Act 1989 currently provides that the new Council comprises 9 members. The Minister of Education appoints all 9 members. There are no elections.
This Bill retains an independent statutory basis for the Council, but its governing body is a mix of teacher members elected directly by the teaching profession and lay representatives appointed by the Minister of Education.
It is possible under the current Act that 4 of 9 Council members are non-teachers. “At least 5 of the members must be registered under section 353 and hold a practising certificate under section 361”- Schedule 21, clause 1(1) and (2). This Bill proposes that teachers should be in a majority in the leadership of their own professional body.
Teachers expect that membership of the Council should include appointments in the public interest, but it is only logical to build teachers’ ownership of the organisation required to promote and monitor the standards of their profession by ensuring they have a direct vote on some Council members.
The teaching profession supports greater legal independence for the Council, but it cannot, and will not, be perceived to be independent of Government as long as all of its governance body members are directly appointed by the Minister.
This Bill proposes that the membership of the Council be increased to 13, to include a senior ECE leader and a teacher educator and 5 other qualified and registered teachers/teacher leaders. Ministerial appointment fills the 6 other member positions.
This link takes you to the full Bill, if you wish for more detail.
~ Dianne, SOSNZ
One of the most insulting and insidious things done to teachers by the previous government was when Hekia Parata removed democracy from the Education Council. Teachers were still required to fund the body through involuntary registration fees, but had no say on who made up the Council itself; Hekia hand picked every member of the Council herself.
The move from a focus on it being a teachers’ body to something more akin to an outer arm of the Ministry of Education was made patently clear with the removal of the the word ‘Teachers’ from its name. At that point, the Education Council ceased to be teachers’ representative body in both deed and name.
So it gave me great pleasure to see that the current Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, has a Bill before Parliament (Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa) Amendment Bill) that aims to right these wrongs and that this was supported in House by Tracey Martin (NZ First, Minister For Children) and Chloe Swarbrick (Green Party).
What gave me the greatest pleasure, though, was hearing Jan Tinetti (Labour) support the Bill. Jan has been a teacher and principal for over 20 years before becoming an MP last year, and she well knows the damage done to teacher morale over the past few years. She spoke for thousands of us when she said:
“The lowest point as a principal that I saw teachers get to was when the Education Council was set up under the Education Amendment Bill a couple of years ago. It was a real kick to teachers. It was where teachers said ‘the government doesn’t care about us – we don’t matter to them any more’ And we felt low. As a teaching profession, we felt lower than low.”
Jan hit the nail on the head when she pointed to the move being about control and punishment, saying:
“This was a punitive approach and was seen as a punitive way to control us as a teaching profession.”
She then rightly explained:
“…as any behavioural psychologist will tell you, punitive approach never brings out the best in anybody…”
Teachers felt downtrodden, mistrusted, and insulted. (And is it any wonder there’s a recruitment problem when the government openly treated us that way?) But change is afoot.
The changes proposed in the Bill aim to restore democracy to the teachers’ professional body by having 7 Council positions that are voted in by teachers, and restore teachers’ faith that it is their professional body by renaming it the Teaching Council. And in doing these things, it also restores hope that once more we have a government that respects teachers.
Mutual respect, honesty and integrity go a long way to bringing out the best in us all.
Here’s to better times.
~ Dianne, SOSNZ
You can (and should) enjoy Jan Tinetti’s speech in full, here:
Hurrah! SOSNZ’s investigation into the Teacher Education Refresh (TER) programme has got the attention of the Education Council, and Lesley Hoskin (Deputy Chief Executive of the Education Council) has assured me that they are looking into things urgently.
When I spoke with her, Lesley was very clear that concerns are being taken seriously and that EC is now aware that there are big issues. She said that EC will start by looking into requirements for itinerant teachers and relievers to undertake the TER programme, and will widen the net to look at the criteria in its entirety so that is can be applied fairly, reasonably and with flexibility.
It’s great that they listened, and great that PPTA and NZEI backed up the concerns we raised, but in order for improvements to be made, Education Council need your feedback.
That’s right, it’s over to you.
If you have done the TER, please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the online form here. EC needs to know the positives and negatives, in particular regarding the criteria for having to do the course.
If you have not done the course but have concerns, you can also send feedback. Please make it as specific as possible so that the issues are clear. Email: email@example.com or use the online form.
I am, of course, happy to receive your feedback re the TER and pass it on to EC for you (anonymously if needs be) but in order to get specific situations reassessed EC will need your full name and registration number, so please bear that in mind.
If you want to have your own situation assessed to see whether you have to do the TER course or not, also email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the online form.
When asking for an assessment, make sure you give them your full name and teacher registration number so they can access your files and get all of your details. This is the only way to get an accurate answer.
If you want to email Lesley Hoskin direct, she is happy for you to do that. You can contact her at: email@example.com,nz
Lesley informs the that Education Council typically responds to email within 48 hours. If you don’t get a reply in that time frame, check your email spam box, and if there’s nothing hiding in there please call the Education Council and follow it up.
We’ve now got the Education Council in agreement that the course requirements are not as they should be; to get things changed, you have to let those with the power to change things know what your concerns are.
You know the drill by now: email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the online form
Over to you.
~ Dianne Khan, SOSNZ
Alerted to concerns, I met with a teachers as they completed the Education Council’s Teacher Refresher Course to get a sense of what they thought of the course and the need to undertake it. What I heard was unexpected and alarming.
$4,000. Four Thousand Dollars. That’s how much the 12-week refresher course costs. And that’s just for the course. I expected people to raise concerns about that – I’d already had a few on social media – but there were issues I’d not yet considered.
Yes the course is expensive, they said – but why? Compare it with the cost for the full one year graduate teaching programme – it doesn’t stack up, they said. So I did some research:
All of which begs the question, why it is $4,000 for a 12-week course?
It surprised me, too, to hear that attendees could not apply for student loans to pay for the course. Teachers spoke of putting the cost on credit cards or using bank loans, and of overdraft bills being racked up as costs mounted.
They also pointed out that in addition to the course cost, they’d lost a term’s wages, often had to pay for accommodation, had travel costs (many people were from out of town) and had had to pay for childcare (especially those from out of town). Suddenly the actual costs were far in excess of $4k… For a twelve week course.
All of which, many noted, might be just about bearable if you felt the course was necessary…
One teacher explained that he is an itinerant music teacher. He does no classroom teaching at all, working only one-to-one or one-to-two teaching musical instruments in a number of schools across a large geographical area. The schools he goes to, he says, are very happy with his work – indeed he’s been doing this for well over a decade and everyone was just dandy with the set up – the teacher himself, the schools, the students and the Teachers Council. Then came the Education Council (EC).
Suddenly, this teacher was told he must do the Teacher Refresher Course if he wanted to continue working in schools. “Why?” he asked. He explained to EC that he knows of many itinerant music teachers who are not even qualified teachers, and they were allowed to carry on teaching – so why couldn’t he? He was informed that because he had at one time been a fully qualified teacher, he couldn’t do as the other itinerant teachers and work under a Limited Authority to Teach (LAT), but had to regain his fully registered teacher status. Which means, in a nutshell, he is being punished for having once trained as a teacher!
It makes no sense. If other itinerant music teachers can be unqualified teachers and work under an LAT as specialists, then why can’t he?
This teacher doesn’t want to be a full time teacher or a classroom teacher of any sort. He doesn’t want to take relieving work. He has no wish to do any teaching other than the one-to-one or one-to-two itinerant music teaching he has done for well over a decade. Like his itinerant music teacher colleagues do.
So he has undertaken the Teacher Refresher Course to allow him to carry on earning his living – a course that was focused around classroom teaching, National Standards, paperwork requirements and so on – none of which applies at all to the job he does.
How does the Education Council justify that?
Still reeling from the mind-boggling bureaucratic nightmare of the music teacher’s story, I was approached by a teacher who wanted to speak about their situations as a reliever.
This teacher said she has no wish to be employed as a full- or part-time classroom teacher on a contract, content with working as a relief teacher. She explained she is much in demand, has regular schools that she’d worked with for years, and is up to date with changes in the sector such as National Standards. She’d been teaching for decades.
Prior to the change from Teachers Council to Education Council, she had been able to continue relieving year on year with no problems, but with the Education Council, everything changed. Now, she was told, if she wanted to carry on relieving, she must do the Teacher Refresher Course. No ifs or buts.
So she, like the music teacher, had done the course only to find it focused on things that really had little to no bearing on her work as a reliever. “It’s not as if I’ve learned anything I need,” she said, frustrated that she’d been made to jump through hoops only because of what seems to be a lack of flexibility in the Education Council’s rules.
What interested me with the above scenario was how the information she’d been given compared to the information I’d been given not weeks before by two representatives from the Education Council…
I was informed face-to-face in a room full of senior teachers and principals that I wouldn’t have to do the Refresher Course if I was going to continue “only relieving”. The EC staff were very clear that the Refresher Course was necessary only if I wanted to go back to an actual classroom teaching contract. I could carry on with my Subject To Confirmation status and still be a reliever. Yet this teacher had been told something entirely different and was now thousands of dollars in debt… So which information is right?
Just when I thought I’d heard it all – and I can tell you, my head was reeling by this point – I was approached by this lady…
She has been teaching for decades, too. She sustained a head injury towards the end of her teacher training and as a result has never been able to work full time. This means she never completed the two year induction for new teachers. As a result, the Education Council informed her she must undertake the Refresher Course and become a fully registered teacher to continue teaching in any capacity.
This woman has a brain injury. She can only ever work part time. She can only ever work at the most as a reliever. She is, she explained, unable to sustain what is needed to work as a contracted classroom teacher responsible for planning, testing, report writing and so on. She knows this, her schools know this, and all is well; She is a good reliever, with a number of regular schools that she’s worked for for years.
The Teachers Council would, at re-registration time, receive a doctor’s note explaining her condition and information from the schools she works with, and they would accept that she is a fully competent teacher in the role as part-time reliever. Teachers Council would re-register her. No problem. The Education Council, however, insisted on her undertaking the Refresher Course.
The course had been an enormous strain on her. It is full time, with in-class placements overlapping with research, essays and presentations in what is a busy twelve weeks for even an entirely well person. For someone with a brain injury, it was incredibly hard work. And yet, she was faced with either soldiering on at a potential cost to her health or not doing the course and losing her means of income.
Telling me the whole sorry tale, she looked tired, sounded exasperated, and had an air of defeat. “I don’t understand the reasoning,” she said. No, nor do I.
Everyone I spoke to accepted that teachers who never completed their two years as provisionally registered teachers would need a refresher course, having not had time to put their knowledge into practice and grow as a teacher after first qualifying. The course attendees I spoke to that were in those circumstances said the course had been beneficial and their only concern was the financial cost.
But those teachers who had no intention of being classroom teachers ever again and who usually had years (often decades) of classroom teaching experience felt the Education Council needed to look again at both the criteria for doing the course and the course’s content.
If itinerant and relief teachers are being forced to do it, then the course needs to reflect their roles and their needs. If competency is the issue, then the course must address their competency in the roles they undertake. At the moment, in many cases, it doesn’t – making the whole affair a very expensive and extremely frustrating farce.
27/7/16 – EDITED TO INCLUDE LINK TO ARTICLE RE EDUCATION COUNCIL WANTING FEEDBACK:
Details of courses and requirements: https://educationcouncil.org.nz/content/teacher-education-refresh-ter-programme
Itinerant music programme losing teachers due to Education Council requirements: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/81854579/itinerant-music-programme-losing-teachers-due-to-education-council-requirements
Oh dear. The Education Council’s promise to deal with the hard issues like tightening security around teacher registration appears to have given way to bashing teachers about their IT competence.
As PPTA noted in its piece, Education Council and the deficit model of teachers: “On cue, the organisation that is supposed to be about teachers lets the government off the hook for the digital divide and ends up blaming schools and teachers for unpreparedness around ICT.”
Rather than pointing out that some teachers know more than others about IT, and that some schools have better equipment than others, Teachers Council might better use its energy to push for fully-funded, good quality professional development undertaken in teachers’ normal work hours.
Or are we again expected to find the money and time ourselves? Should we do the tech stuff before or after the additional maths studying NZI wants from us? Before or after all the sports and cultural activities teachers support unpaid?
Teachers don’t want the Education Council to spend its time pointing out the obvious – that there are differences in knowledge and application of skills. We want practical solutions and support.
I know the Education Council is starting on the back-foot. Many teachers feel it was imposed on them and that it doesn’t represent them. So it has work to do to get people onside, and this is not a great start.
Neither was it a great start when Education Council sent a snarky Tweet pointing out a spelling error I’d made and completely ignored the actual issue I had raised. This is worrying. Members of the Education Council themselves send Tweets with errors in – it happens, get over it. A wise educator would ignore the typo and focus on the points being debated.
What a very poor example to set.
Round of applause, Education Council – what a sterling start.
Sources and further reading