The New Zealand Teachers Council is to be scrapped and will be replaced by a new group with members appointed by Education Minister Hekia Parata.
Called the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, the new body will support education professionals in both the school and early childhood education sectors.
The Teachers Council was set up in 2002 and regulated registered teachers in schools and early childhood education services as well as dealing with those working towards full registration. It was reviewed after recommendations from a 2010 Workforce Advisory Group report. The review also took into account a recent report into the employment of a convicted sex offender within the education sector.
In May, a ministerial advisory group consulted about proposed changes. The consultation was reported to the minister in July with recommendations for change to the Council itself and also to the regulatory framework for teaching and the disciplinary framework.
Following the reviews, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced this month that a new council would be set up and a transition board would be put in place to oversee the changeover.
Ms Parata said the new council would have more scope to “invest in leadership as well as teaching, and ensuring that professionals in the early childhood sector are also fully embraced”.
“Teaching needs a strong professional body that provides leadership to, and is owned by the profession”, she said. “The new Council will support system changes to improve the quality of teaching and education leadership and will have the needs of children and young people, and the public interest, at its heart”.
The announcement states that the new Council will:
- Raise the status of the teaching profession
- Establish a specific focus on education leadership
- Forge a new relationship between the profession and the Government to deliver on the public interests in education
- Make changes to the regulatory framework for teaching – including changes to the disciplinary regime
- Lead public debate on education issues
The members of the new Council will be chosen by Ms Parata rather than being elected by teachers. Some will be from a pool of nominees while others will be direct appointments and this has led to criticism and concerns that the new body will not be independent enough, nor will it have representatives from a wide range of backgrounds within the sector including teachers. However, the Council will be an independent body, and therefore theoretically allowed to criticise or oppose the Government’s views.
A transition board has already been announced and will be charged with developing a strategic plan for the new Council and ensuring critical parts of the Teachers Council responsibilities are continued during the changeover.
Former Auckland Grammar School headmaster John Morris will chair the board, and Nancy Bell, chief executive of the New Zealand Childcare Association, will be the deputy chair.
The other board members are:
- Steve Maharey - former MP and now Vice Chancellor of Massey University
- Paul Matthews - Kaingaroa School principal
- Richard Newton - principal of St Clair School in Dunedin
- Hoana Pearson - Newtown Central School principal
- Dr Margaret Southwick - Project Manager for People, Performance and Capability at Whitireia Community Polytechnic
- Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith - Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Te Whare Wānanga Awanuiārangi.
- Arihia Stirling - principal of Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae
- Linda Tame - former principal at Lincoln High School and a past executive member of the Secondary Principals Association
- Allan Vester - principal of Edgewater College and Chairperson of New Zealand Secondary Principals’ Council.
In the announcement, Ms Parata acknowledged the work of the Teachers Council and the way current Board members had handled the reviews and subsequent recommendations.
The Teachers Council will continue until legislation is enacted to set up the new Council. Ms Parata is expected to introduce a Bill to change the Education Act to disestablish the old Teachers Council. The change is expected to come into effect during 2014.