Teachers vie for council positions

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 09/08/2014

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Nearly 40 nominations have been put forward for a final tilt at the New Zealand Teachers Council before it's scrapped for a new system, including from a Horowhenua early childhood teacher who's hoping to advocate for less fortunate children.

Margaret Jeune, from Levin, was nominated for a position on the Teachers Council, with voting opening next month.

"There's so few opportunities to speak of and I hope there's a good cross-section of the country on the council and not just the people in the cities who get the chance," she said.

"People in my circumstances, who are in a very multi-cultural and poor community, need to be represented. I work with children in a lot of poverty and I know how they're feeling and I can see that they're struggling."

But how the Teachers Council currently runs is set for a shake-up with the Government pushing new legislation in Parliament.

Under changes in the Education Amendment Bill the Teachers Council will be scrapped and replaced with the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (EDUCANZ), an independent statutory body.

The Teachers Council has 11 members, four of which are selected through teacher election, however the new nine-member body will be made up of "skill-based" members selected by the minister.

As the bill was first proposed there were no guaranteed positions on it for teachers, causing backlash from the sector.

Overwhelming opposition meant it has since been changed.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has confirmed that there's now a requirement that at least five teachers with current practising certificates would be on the new EDUCANZ model. "Teaching needs a strong professional body that provides leadership to, and is owned by, the profession."

But Labour's education spokesman Chris Hipkins said teachers were lining up for a last chance to elect their own council before the existing system was scrapped.

The 37 nominations for four places showed "just how much teachers value their voice". "For a professional body to be effective it must have the confidence and support of those that it seeks to govern; EDUCANZ won't have that support because teachers feel so disempowered as a result of its creation."

Jeune said, "I just hope that teachers will still be represented in a fair manner."

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- Manawatu Standard

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