The EDUCANZ Bill - I have made my submission, have you made yours??
Here is my submission, would love to see yours as well!! ;)
To the Education and Science Select Committee
I am making a submission opposing the changes to the Education Amendment Bill No.2, in particular the sections establishing EDUCANZ and changing the teacher registration framework.
I submit that:
The lack of teacher representation (Section 380 and Schedule 22) is a major issue. The complete absence of elected teacher positions marks an absolute departure from democratic process. I believe this undermines teachers as professionals and suggests that teacher voice is not valued in decision making related to EDUCANZ.
Of even greater concern is the fact that there will be no elected teacher positions on the new Council. Whilst it is stipulated that a maximum of five positions must be people who are registered, it is not actually specified that these positions be filled by currently practising teachers. Compare this to the Medical Council of New Zealand which comprises of:
- four doctors elected by the profession
- four doctors appointed by the Minister of Health
- four laypersons (a person who is not registered as a health practitioner)
I would suggest a similar process for appointment and spread of representation would be far more equitable, representative and democratic. So often we hear the need for teachers to be treated as or regarded as “professionals”, similar, one would hope, to how doctors are regarded. I would suggest that having a similar approach to Council formation, would be an excellent start. Also it is important to highlight that teachers are in fact the people who fund the Council, surely, it would only seem fair that the Council made possible by teacher registration funds was at least in part elected by the teaching community.
Another area of concern (at least without further information) is the expanded functions of the Council. It would seem that Council is going to have an increased leadership role over the profession. It would also seem that the Council will be disseminating best practice and fostering development of the profession. Whilst best practice and professional development is integral to raising teacher performance, it is also incredibly important that this leadership comes from within the profession and not from an external body. If the Council was definitely made up of at least eight highly regarded current practitioners this would not be of concern. However, at present, the make-up of the Council looks like it will not be representative of the teaching community at all. We are professionals, we have a vast pool of expertise within our community. Teachers must be represented, they must be recognised and they must be the people who lead their peers.
Another area of concern is the change of Code of Ethics to a Conduct of Conduct. Ethics is integral to the teaching profession, a shift to focus on conduct, or rather behaviour is simply insulting. It would suggest we as a profession need our behaviour monitored, rather than abiding by a set of ethical guidelines. This to me is preposterous. Again, we are professionals who deserve to be treated in the highest regard. In an age where the rhetoric of the classroom is shifting away from conduct and behaviour and is engaging increasingly in dispositional curricula that looks to develop ethical, world aware young people it seems almost absurd that the Council would like to move backwards in their language and approaches.
A final area of concern outlined in this bill is the changes in provisions for Limited Authorities to Teach which will mean that someone “with specialist skills but not a teaching qualification” can be authorised to teach for three years at a time without the employer having to prove that they have tried unsuccessfully to fill the position
with a trained and qualified teacher. Whilst I believe it is becoming increasingly important for schools to partner with the wider community and to access the expertise of a range of specialists, I do not believe that this change is necessary. All this does is undermine the very profession that you suggest you are trying to elevate. It infers that registration and even teaching qualifications are not valued, or even required. If the government believes that the present teaching qualifications do not provide the skill set needed in schools, I would suggest you redirect your focus to those delivering the qualifications and not undermine an entire nation of registered teachers.
In summary, I have a number of real concerns about a changes to the Education Amendment Bill. It is absolutely essential that the Council is representative of the teaching community, and that a democratic process is used to establish it. Without this representation, the increased functions of the Council is deeply concerning. The change of the Code of Ethics to a more menial Code of Conduct is also deeply troubling. This compounded with the elevation of “unqualified teacher” suggests an incredible lack of trust and low regard for the registered and qualified teachers of New Zealand. I would like to finish this submission by repeating my earlier refrain - teachers must be represented, they must be recognised and they must be the people who lead their peers.