By: Simon Collins

Education Council chairwoman Barbara Ala’alatoa has put teachers’ fee changes on hold until Parliament passes a bill expanding the council’s membership and introducing elections. Photo / File

The Education Council says it will cost $220,000 to change its name to the “Teaching Council” under a bill now before Parliament.

The council says in a submission that it will also have to pay $105,000 a year in extra meeting fees under the bill’s proposal to expand the council from nine appointed members to 13 members, including seven elected by teachers.

On top of that, electing the elected members will cost $150,000, plus $10,000 for training new members, every three years.

The council is required by law to fund itself through fees for teaching certificates, so the increased costs are likely to require higher fees for teachers.

Former National Party Education Minister Nikki Kaye said the name change was “a huge waste of money”.

“The Education Council is representative of a range of education stakeholders, and I hope that on the select committee we can try and change the name back,” she said.

But Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the name change cost would be only a “one-off”.

“It’s early days but of course there will be a cost associated with the rebrand of the Education Council,” he said.

“However it would be a one-off cost, as there was when the National Government chose to rename it to the Education Council against the wishes of the teaching profession.”

He told Cabinet in January that the council was funded by teachers’ fees so the council “will need to consider the costs associated with the proposals in this paper … in determining a new fee level”.

The new council took over the Teachers Council’s responsibility for registration and disciplining of teachers, plus a wider mandate to lead the teaching profession and raise its status.

The National Government gave it $21 million from taxpayers in 2016 as “transitional funding” until it consulted teachers about the proposed new fees, but its consultation document last year said the existing fees would cover only $8.5m of its $18m costs in 2018-19.

The extra ongoing costs of the proposed expanded and partially elected council, averaging $158,333 a year, will add 0.9 per cent to the council’s total costs, and therefore likely teacher fees.

Education Council chairwoman Barbara Ala’alatoa said last month that the fee increase proposed last year would be put on hold until after the bill changing the council’s name and structure was passed.

“The council does not want to charge teachers any more fees than needed to perform its statutory functions, governance and to run the council,” she said.

“Once the legislation has passed, we will have more certainty about what that means for the council and your fees.”

Teachers’ groups support both the name change and the proposal for teachers to elect a majority of council members, although the NZ Educational Institute’s submission “notes that there will be a cost to the rebranding of the Education Council as the Teaching Council of Aotearoa and urges a cautious fiscal approach to this work”.

Submissions on the bill closed on March 30. Parliament’s education and workforce select committee began hearing submissions today and is due to report back to the full House by August 1.

Source: NZ Herald

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