Teachers have 'no reason to be concerned'

The leader of a transition board tasked with setting up the new Educanz body to replace the New Zealand Teachers' Council says education sector unions are scaremongering over changes to the regulatory and professional body.

Teachers have strongly opposed the Government's plans to change the Teachers' Council, because of concerns it will undermine quality teaching.

Submissions to the Education Amendment Bill (No2) closed last week and more than 450 NZEI members have made submissions opposing the Bill.

NZEI president Judith Nowotarski said it would make it easier for unqualified people to act as teachers, removed the right of teachers to directly elect their own professional body, and replaced a high-trust model with a low-trust, compliance-based framework.

Post Primary Teachers' Association president Angela Roberts believed its intention was not so much to raise the status of teaching as to remove professional autonomy and bring teachers under the control of politicians.

However, transition board chairman and former Auckland Grammar School principal John Morris said there was no need for alarm from the sector.

''There's no reason, I don't think, for teachers to be concerned whatsoever. It's just different ways of joining up the dots. I don't think they should be worried at all.

''What we all want is the best for the new body, and to make sure that there is a truly professional body for the profession.''

Mr Morris said every profession needed a professional regulatory body but, at the moment, the teaching profession did not have one.

''What we really need is a professional body that is really looking at raising the status of teaching, attracting high-quality candidates into the profession, and also ensure an ongoing improvement in the quality of educational leadership and teaching.

''Those are the three things we [the transition board] are focusing on, and ensuring that there is no hiatus between the Teachers' Council stopping and the new body starting.

''That's a critical thing because going back to 2002, when the Teachers' Registration Board was abolished, there was a massive hiatus between that finishing and the Teachers' Council starting, and we don't want that to happen again.''

He said the board was developing a vision, mission and strategic plan for the organisation, and appointing an interim chief executive officer to advise the Education Minister and liaise with stakeholders.

''All those things, the first two in particular, will be seen as a gift to Educanz, so that when Educanz starts, the new board will have something to work under.

''They don't have to accept anything we've done. They can just say 'that's fantastic and we love everything about it', or 'no, we think there should be changes'.

''It's up to them to do that. We're giving them something to start with; otherwise, they will be starting on day one with nothing.''

Mr Morris said the board welcomed debate about the legislation but it had no place in that.

''We don't develop policy, so what my own personal viewpoints are, are totally irrelevant.''

- john.lewis@odt.co.nz


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