United teachers to battle over new council

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 24/03/2014

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Teachers are uniting to fight for better representation on the new body replacing the Teachers Council.

The establishment of a new professional body for teachers - the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand (Educanz) - has the secondary schools teachers' union going to battle over, what they say, are attempts to control them.

The Post-Primary Teachers Association is holding paid union meetings nationwide next month to inform teachers of the changes and encourage them to make submissions to the education and science select committee, which is overseeing the bill that was introduced to Parliament this month.

"It's clear from the bill that the intention isn't so much to raise the status of teaching as to remove professional autonomy and bring teachers firmly under the control of politicians," PPTA president Angela Roberts said.

The Teachers Council's core business of managing registration, competence and discipline should be strengthened but there was no justification for throwing it out completely, she said.

Educanz would consist of nine members appointed by the education minister through nominations and direct appointments.

Ms Roberts said leaving all appointments to the "whim of an education minister" would do nothing to strengthen the status of the teaching profession.

The changes would also see a move from a code of ethics for teachers to a code of conduct to be developed by the new council.

"This makes it sound like we're in a job where we can't control ourselves," Ms Roberts said.

"If they're trying to lift the status of teachers then treat us like professionals, not workers who need rules of how to behave."

Education Minister Hekia Parata said the changes were part of a three-year process, drawing on international experience and widespread consultation. "Teaching needs a strong professional body that provides leadership to, and is owned by the profession.

"The bill will improve teacher registration, enhance reporting requirements, and provide a greater range of options when dealing with disciplinary matters."

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- The Dominion Post

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