Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced her plans regarding the new Teachers Council. This has followed a review of the existing one that was driven by the Government's concerns that the disciplinary process was not dealing with high profile cases involving inappropriate behaviour fast enough. The review highlighted the widely held belief that an independent, higher functioning teachers council was needed to raise the status of the teaching profession.
NZEI has promoted the value of a teachers council that operates independently of both Government and unions and serves as the main authority for promoting and maintaining professional standards. For too long the teaching profession has had to endure ideological swings in education every time a government changes and the bodies given the responsibility of overseeing teachers have been under resourced and lacked real authority or independence. The current Teachers Council has done some good work in establishing new professional standards for teachers and leading the development of professional mentoring, but its current status as a crown entity has had its limitations.
Sadly the Minister has lost the an opportunity to set up a professional body that will have the support of the profession and the respect of the public, despite the goals for the new council appearing logical and reasonable:
- Raise the status of the Teaching profession
- Establish a focus on education leadership
- Forge a new relationship between the profession and the Government to deliver on the public interests in education
- Make changes to the regulatory framework for teaching-including changes to the disciplinary regime
- lead public debate on education
However, for the new council to truly represent the profession of teaching, independence from government is vital and the council governors need to have the support and respect of those whom they represent. There will be little credibility in a council that is intended to represent the profession when the transitional board will be hand picked by a Minister who has struggled with her role and does not have the respect of teachers.
It is well known that this National led Government has spent much of the past 5 years implementing an ideological agenda that is diametrically opposed to what the profession believes is best for education and children. The Government has bought into the same GERM reforms that have failed in other countries that are ranked beneath us in educational achievement.
The fact that the interim and future boards will be dominated by government appointees will only ensure that despite the council being funded by the registration fees paid by teachers, the government will still have a controlling influence.