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
The Education Council also plans to develop a Code of Conduct for teachers that outlines expectations for teacher behaviour.
The Education Council can act on concerns about a teacher without receiving a complaint.
Education Council can “[a]ct on concerns about teacher conduct without relying on a third party complaint.”
Is the Education Council free to truly work for education and does it fairly represent teachers, or is there undue political influence?
One to keep a close eye on.
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
“Only one person on the new body replacing the NZ Teachers Council has been democratically elected by the profession through an electoral process run by NZEI,” says President Louise Green.
“This is a sad day for the teaching profession. A democratically elected council has been replaced by a group hand-picked by the Minister.
“How can teachers have any faith in a council that has been chosen entirely by the Minister and not by their own representatives?
“Despite the Minister’s claims, EDUCANZ is not independent and does not represent teachers or the teaching profession. Instead it will be seen by teachers as another vehicle set up by the Government to exert control over the teaching profession.”
The first list of what National has done to education was lonnnng. Very long. And scary. Verrrrrry scary, You get my drift. But since it was published a year ago, there have been new horrors, many of which prove all the more interesting when you consider the $$$ involved:
Add to those ….
… and a picture is painted of a government concerned not a jot with the poorest or most needy in our society. What a sad indictment.
As a past elected member of the New Zealand Teachers Council I find myself profoundly offended by the Ministry of Education’s advertisement for EDUCANZ in today’s Dominion Post, headed up “We’re making changes to education so all Kiwi kids can fly. Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.”
Why is it in today’s political climate, that any new initiative has to be accompanied by denigration of the previous, as if the previous policy was so flawed and so led by misguided and insincere people that it had no value at all?
The Teachers Council was a replacement body for the Teacher Registration Board which had been an effective organisation but one with limited powers. The Board, Director and staff of the Teacher Registration Board were wholly in favour of the new Teachers Council with its broader powers and focus on promoting the professional status of teachers.
Yes, the NZ Teachers Council had a rocky start. The first Chair was driven from her post by unfounded and politically biased accusations – she was later cleared but it was too late by then. This led to the appointment of a director who, while a good person in many ways, was not really up to the task.
This all changed with the appointment of a number of truly effective chairs and of Peter Lind as Director. Over time this hard work gained acceptance of the Council across the profession – even (remarkably) in the university teacher education faculties. What a fantastic effort to make something as bureaucratic as registration accepted by teachers! Now for pathetic political reasons, all that hard, dedicated work by Peter, all of his staff and a whole swag of Council members and chairs has been discarded, marginalised and treated as worthless.
The Ministry of Education has a website page listing the differences between the Council and EDUCANZ. (See also this version on the EDUCANZ website.) Their view is that key to this is the status of EDUCANZ as an independent statutory body rather than an Autonomous Crown Entity. Apparently this means that the Minister can select members to create a skills-balanced organisation rather than relying on the vagaries of the electoral process – so much for democracy. And of course the Minister appoints all members of the Council – that makes for real independence.
At least five candidates from this nomination process will be appointed by the Minister, with the balance being selected by the Minister.
This is a sham, a total sham. I am really pissed off!!
~ Ken Wilson
Government Press Release:
EDUCANZ is the new independent professional body that will replace the New Zealand Teachers Council later this year.
“EDUCANZ is a quantum step for the New Zealand education profession. It will act in the interests of teachers, principals and educators across the education system from early childhood through to senior secondary,” says Ms Parata.
The new council will be charged with continuously raising the quality of the profession from initial teacher education to ever-increasing expertise on clearly defined career pathways, ensuring the highest standards of professional conduct and safety of students, advocacy for professional learning and development of the profession, and partnering in education research and policy.
“Nominations are encouraged from anyone with a strong interest in the development and strengthening of the education profession. All appointments will be on the basis of skills, experience and knowledge.
“Members will act in the interests of the education profession as a whole, rather than any one sector group.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved in education. Student achievement continues to rise and the Investing in Educational Success initiative signals a new era of collaboration in raising the quality of teaching and leadership from early childhood to senior secondary.
“I am confident the nominations process for EDUCANZ will attract huge interest and a high calibre of nominees.”
The EDUCANZ governing council will have nine members, at least five of whom must be registered teachers with current practising certificates. One of the nine will be appointed chair of the council.
Nominations close on 26 March. An 0800 number (0800 EDUCANZ) has been set up for those without internet access who wish to get involved or find out more.
The Education Amendment Bill (2) has passed meaning the dissolution of the New Zealand Teachers Council this year to be replaced by EDUCANZ, a body that will be entirely made up of members hand-picked by the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata.
This is not democracy.
Currently, teachers get to vote on their representation on the Teachers Council: That will be over.
Currently, teachers register every three years: It will become an annual registration, all paid for by teachers.
Currently, teachers are bound by a Code of Ethics: This is to be placed by a Code of Conduct written by the hand-picked members of EDUCANZ, and is likely to attempt to gag teachers from speaking out against education reforms they consider damaging to children and the education system as a whole.
Be under no illusion, this is a full frontal assault on educators.
We Must Stand United
This assault must be met head on by a united PPTA and NZEI. They must stand shoulder to shoulder saying no. There must be no wavering; this is a time for solidarity of purpose.
The New Zealand School Trustees Association should support teachers in this action and be staunch in doing so.
Whether the New Zealand Principals Federation (NZPF) or Secondary Principals’ Association of New Zealand will stand shoulder to shoulder, too, is debatable. I would hope they would show the courage.
Standing up to the changes this Bill imposes is no small feat and would not be undertaken lightly. But there comes a time when every one of us must say enough, and this is that time.
We must be united.
PPTA and NZEI, we are looking to you for leadership, guidance and strength.
Yesterday, with the passing of the above Bill, another blow hit New Zealand education. The Bill passed 61:59 with National, ACT and United Future voting it through.
The Bill gets rid of the Teachers Council and replaces it with EDUCANZ, a new professional body for the teaching profession. The problem here is that EDUCANZ cannot and will not represent teachers: Clause 1 of Schedule 22 in the bill outlines that the nine members of EDUCANZ will all be appointed by the Minister of Education. Not one member of EDUCANZ will be democratically chosen by teachers. Not one.
Even the EDUCANZ transition board, put in place well before the Bill was even passed, was chosen by the Minister of Education. And, you guessed it, “[a]t least five candidates from this nomination process will be appointed by the Minister, with the balance being selected by the Minister.”
Compare that to the Teachers Council, which “has 11 members, with four members directly appointed by the Minister of Education, three members appointed by the Minister following nomination by NZEI, NZSTA (School Trustees Association), PPTA and four members elected by the sector.’
The Bill also shrinks universities and wananga councils and removes the necessity for student representation on those council. These changes were rigorously argued against by well over a thousand submissions to the Education Select Committee. The submissions were, like last time, ignored.
Are you spotting a pattern here, of reduced representation? Of increased government control?
If you’re not convinced of that control thing, you may wish to consider that EDUCANZ will be writing a new Code of Conduct for teachers. That’s right, the Code of Conduct will be written by people entirely chosen by the Minister. Prepare to be gagged.
Reactions to the Bill Passing
Chris Hipkins spoke of a “string of bad decisions by the minister which have led to disastrous changes to the education sector” and called the move “the final nail in the coffin for teachers wanting representation on their own professional body”.
Sandra Grey, Tertiary Education Union national president, said the union will campaign at each NZ university and wānanga for their council to set aside one-third of council seats for democratically elected staff and student representatives.
In fact, the only people speaking in favour of the Bill, were Hekia Parata, Stephen Joyce and co.
Ask yourself why.
Sources and further reading:
I’d love to tell you what was reported in The New Zealand Herald, but they ignored the event completely. Of course.
The Education Amendment Bill, which had its 3rd reading in the House last night, replaces the Teachers Council with a new body, EDUCANZ and removes the right of teachers to vote for representation on the new board. Instead, the Minister of Education will appoint all members.
NZEI National President Louise Green says that this is another attempt to reduce the influence that teachers have on decisions affecting their daily practice.
She says teachers have particular concerns around the introduction of a Code of Conduct which could effectively gag their ability to speak out and advocate for children.
“This is not about improving education for children, this is about trying to remove the professional voice from teaching.
Louise Green says that despite this latest move, teachers will continue to speak out against policies that undermine our public education system.
“Teachers are not state servants, we are public servants. We have commitments to learners, families and society under our Code of Ethics. This means we have a responsibility to advocate for the right of all children to have a great education.
“Parents need to ask why the Government is targeting the teaching profession in a way that it wouldn’t dare target doctors, accountants or lawyers.”
Last year the association’s annual conference voted to empower PPTA’s executive to develop a range of responses to the Education Amendment Bill (no.2) which aims to replace the New Zealand Teachers Council with a government appointed body.
These included giving PPTA’s executive the power to determine the extent to which the association would co-operate with the new body and putting proposals for actions against the new council to a teacher vote.
With the passing of the bill last night it was time for battle lines to be drawn, Roberts said.
“We are still considering our options but I can assure you teachers will not be taking this lying down,” she said.
Until this point the association had tried in good faith to engage in a democratic process, trying to save teachers’ professional body.
“Six months ago more than a dozen credible teachers stood for and were elected by their peers to represent them on the teachers council. This is the last time that will happen,” she said.
It was an echo of the government takeover of university councils, Roberts said.
“Democracy appears to be so inconvenient for this government. The only way they can control and corporatize education is to legislate. They are telling the profession and the public to just trust the government.
“Don’t tell me to trust you when you can’t even trust us to represent ourselves,” she said.
More than a thousand submissions against the bill by secondary teachers alone were ignored, Roberts said.
The overwhelming message across the country from the community and the profession had been completely snubbed, she said.
Given this government’s reputation for corruption, dishonesty and blatant targeting of opponents, and the current Minister’s clear disregard for teachers and advisors, I have some questions:
How happy are we that the Education Minister will now hand-pick all representation on the teachers’ professional body and we teachers can no longer vote to select even one member to act as our representation?
How safe should teachers feel now that the hand-picked body is responsible for misconduct hearings?
How far will a new code of conduct go to silence voices of opposition and dissent?
How much faith do we have that this body is independent of political interference?
Why are we teachers expected to pay for this?