28 Nov 2018

Teaching unions: Bill undermines body's independence

6:52 pm on 28 November 2018

A government bill will put "training wheels" on teachers' disciplinary and registration body, the Teaching Council, and hamper its independence, teacher unions have told the Education and Workforce Select Committee.

PPTA president Jack Boyle.

PPTA president Jack Boyle. Photo: 123RF

The committee was hearing submissions on the Education Amendment Bill No 2, which restores teachers' right to elect most of the members of the council and introduces a requirement that the council have regard for government policy.

The Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) and the Educational Institute told the committee today the new requirement undermined the council's independence.

PPTA president Jack Boyle said the proposed change was like putting training wheels on a child's bike.

"We would disagree with the need for the training wheels and actually believe that it undermines the independence, which the council should have," he said.

"We understand it, we don't feel ripped off, we just don't like it and don't think it's necessary given that there are protections already in there."

The union's deputy general secretary, Tom Haig, said the requirement to have regard to government policy showed the government's trust in teachers to make their own professional decisions was "somewhat tempered".

"There is a nervousness about the freedom of the council to go off and do things which are out of line with government policy," he said.

But Mr Haig said the council's previous behaviour indicated such behaviour was unlikely from the council.

The secretary of the Educational Institute, Paul Goulter said his union was also worried about the proposed change.

"We worry about that as being a backdoor way to undermine the independence of the council and in principle we would not support that," he said.

Mr Goulter said if the clause was included there would need to be very careful balancing between the independence of the council and government's leadership of education policy.

Martyn Weatherill from the Waitakere Area Principals Association told the committee its members were unhappy about the cost of the Teachers Council, which teachers covered by paying for renewal of the practising certificates.

"The minister is appointing 42 percent of the panel, the minister should take 42 percent of the cost."