More teachers disciplined in South

The number of teachers being disciplined by the Teaching Council of New Zealand appears to be on the rise again in Otago and Southland.

In 2015, when the council was established, 14 teachers in the region were investigated and reprimanded.

That number dropped to just three in 2018, but this year it has already climbed to eight teachers, as of September 22.

Teaching Council of New Zealand professional services deputy chief executive Pauline Barnes said of the eight educators listed so far this year, six had been censured, one had their registration cancelled and five had conditions placed on their practising certificate.

One was also referred to ‘‘the impairment process’’ which provides specialist advice regarding possible medical or behavioural issues that may have impacted on an individual’s teaching practice and resulted in a conduct or competence process.

The focus is rehabilitative and designed to ensure the teacher has the best support possible for reintegrating back into the teaching profession.

Teachers are investigated by the council if it is alleged they have committed serious misconduct, such as physical or mental abuse of a pupil, an inappropriate relationship with a pupil, or theft.

They are also investigated if they are dismissed from their job for any reason, or they resign after a conduct/ competence issue.

The teaching council is also notified if a teacher is convicted of any criminal offence punishable by a jail term of three months or more,such as drink-driving.

Ms Barnes said teachers could receive more than one outcome in relation to their case, and outcomes did not necessarily correlate to the year the case was received or when the misconduct occurred because the investigation of cases was robust and sometimes continued across more than a year.

Some also involved external agencies such as police or courts.

She said it was difficult to comment on whether the number of Otago and Southland teachers being investigated was increasing.

‘‘The numbers are too low to determine any meaningful trend.

‘‘The vast majority of New Zealand’s 105,000 teachers are trustworthy and competent.

‘‘As you can see, the numbers of cases represent a tiny fraction of the total number of teachers.

‘‘However, having just one case a year would be a concern. We want the best people teaching our children, and we intervene when anyone does not meet the high expectations the public and the profession [have].’’

john.lewis@odt.co.nz 

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