The Teachers’ Council faces a shakeup after a review found it was ineffective in setting and enforcing standards for the profession.
The review proposes either creating a new independent body, or improving the present council to one that provides better leadership and support.
Teachers may also be subject to more regular assessments of their teaching competency, and see more emphasis placed on professional training.
The Teachers Council is an autonomous Crown entity that sets the standards for teachers and governs issues such as disciplinary action.
A review was instigated in 2010, taking into account 177 submissions, interviewing individuals and groups from throughout the education sector, considering New Zealand and international research, and looking at similar professional bodies in the health, legal, and engineering sectors.
Education Minister Hekia Parata said the council in its current structure, governance and position “can’t effectively set and enforce standards for entry, progression and professional accountability with the full support of the profession”.
“It lacks a distinctive brand or effective public voice.”
The report makes 24 recommendations within four key themes: a new professional body, the regulatory framework for teachers, the disciplinary framework, and resourcing to support a strong, professional body.
It recommends clearer separation between becoming registered as a teacher and the issuing of practising certificates, which certify the ongoing competence of teachers.
The “authority to practise teaching should be renewed regularly, as with current practising certificates”, and the review also endorses a move to postgraduate entry for school teachers.
The amount of council fees paid by teachers could also change, with its increased responsibilities.
It also recommends that, in addition to the current Limited Authority to Teach, a broader Authority to Educate be introduced to allow individuals with proven expertise to complement the teaching workforce.
A Ministerial Advisory Group has been appointed to lead consultation with the sector and the public on the proposals over the next two months.
The Teachers Council welcomed the opportunity to “constructively engage” on the possibility of becoming an independent professional body. It would be discussed at its council meeting at the end of this month.
Chairwoman Alison McAlpine said it would support qualified and registered teachers through greater professional learning opportunities.
“The 177 submissions received from the teaching profession and education sector strongly endorse a move for the Teachers Council to become an independent statutory body.”
New Zealand Educational Institute president Judith Nowotarski said the council needed strengthening and the union had been “keen on [an independent body] for some time”.
It was important the body “should be run by teachers, for teachers”, in the same way the medical council was run, she said.
Post Primary Teachers’ Association president Angela Roberts said there were contradictions in the review, such as the fact it called for a more professional body, despite wanting to create a new category of unqualified teacher.
“There are some really simple hypocrisies. I absolutely believe that they need to become independent of the Government.”
Source: The Dominion Post. Tuesday, 21 May 2013. p. A2.
Story by Jody O’Callaghan
Fairfax NZ Media