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Triple the number of teachers referred to the Disciplinary Tribunal shows profession under stress

teacher safety and competencyOpinion
Dr Sarah Alexander

The number of referrals by the Teaching Council triage committee to the Disciplinary Tribunal has trebled in the past year.  The committee reviews reports on:  teachers failing to reach a level of competence, complaints  by other teachers and the public, employer dissatisfaction with a teacher who has resigned, and allegations of misconduct. 

The number of cases considered serious enough to refer to the Disciplinary Tribunal has risen from 51 in the year to June 2018 to 155 now. It takes around 8 months for cases to be heard so this number could include some backlog. 

No breakdown is provided in the figures to show what proportion of the referrals to the Disciplinary Tribunal is from early childhood education, primary, or secondary.  So we don't know if there has been an increase in the number of early childhood teachers referred.  

But one thing we do know in ECE is that non-kindergarten teacher-led centres have pretty much got to the point where many are scrapping the barrel to find skilled and competent teachers.

Add to this that those who are skilled and competent are very often overworked, doing their best to cope under situations of poor staffing levels, and underpaid as a teacher - and it would not be a surprise should  ECE be responsible for a number of referrals and if not now then we could see this occurring soon. 

This is serious for children who are entitled to a safe and quality education.  It is also serious for those who find themselves referred to the disciplinary tribunal as this very often signals the end of their teaching career.

It would be wonderful if there were lots of high calibre people queuing up to train as ECE teachers and deciding to stay in early childhood teaching.  But the pay is not attractive and shows being an early childhood teacher is not a respected profession. Teachers report being bullied, high numbers of children and insufficient early childhood qualified teachers on the floor, unqualified staff expected to do the work of qualified teachers, and a lack of mentoring and support particularly for new teachers.  

Current government policy, supported by the early childhood business council (ECC) is focused on recruiting foreign teachers and plans are afoot to loosen qualification requirements for staffing in ECE centres. 

Therefore, the problem needs to be approached differently, starting with what services represented by the ECC business lobby pay their staff and what public funding does not reach teachers and children but is spent for example, on high CEO and board member payments Read more.

The Ministry of Education report states that 2 new deputy commissioners have been appointed to help to deal with the increase in referrals to the disciplinary tribunal. The Teaching Council may find in the coming year that it will need to appoint more staff than this.  


Another news story 


Teacher Pay and Professional Respect

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For links to articles from different perspectives and more stories etc., go to the Pay Parity Campaign page here

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