Marlborough Express on the Teachers Council

The Marlborough Express editorial about the woeful inadequacy of the former Teachers Council is particularly relevant, especially the bit about carping teacher unions.

Little wonder teachers are protective of the Teachers Council. It’s probably only polite since it has been so very protective of them.

Unhappily, this has been at the expense of accountability to parents and the public.

The new body is going to have strengthened abilities to exert disciplinary process on errant teachers; and it will have a much more independent look to it rather than the status quo of teachers sitting in judgment on themselves – which they’ve been doing in exquisite privacy.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says new legislation improves teacher registration, enhances reporting requirements and provides a greater range of options when dealing with disciplinary matters. That last bit is particularly important.

The PPTA believes the new body has too much policing power, such as naming teachers facing disciplinary inquiries, which raises the protest that it could jeopardise “natural justice”.

Let’s remind ourselves how well natural justice has been getting along under the Teachers Council.?

When it has investigated a teacher, regardless of how serious the offence, it has applied automatic and permanent name suppression.

The council has decided itself to open up proceedings of all disciplinary hearings from July 1 to improve transparency, but it’s too late. It will happen under the Education Amendment Bill anyway, unless there is good cause for name suppression.

Other changes: there will be automatic referral of teachers to a disciplinary tribunal for cases of serious misconduct, and Educanz will investigate matters without needing a third-party complaint.

Teachers are concerned that the proposed makeup of Educanz – since the minister will appoint every member and there’s no guarantee how many of them will be teachers – means it will be a “Government-controlled club”.

They may have a point for decent representation, but frankly a stronger say by the Government is looking preferable to the outcomes of the teacher-controlled club that has been ready, willing and able to close ranks for far too long, and which is showing a professed interest in openness only when the do-next-to-nothing option has been utterly exhausted.

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