NZ First education spokesperson TRACEY MARTIN shares what drove her to write her Bill that is focused on raising the status of teachers.

One of the greatest challenges to the New Zealand education system is that almost everyone believes they can teach.

Having sat on the Education and Science Select Committee for the last six years, I have heard government MPs articulate this when arguing for Charter Schools. I have even sat there while government members of the committee have seriously argued that it is not the education you receive but the school tie that will determine a student’s future.

Statements like these drove me to write my “Education (Protecting the Title of Teacher) Amendment Bill”, which currently sits in the members’ ballot, waiting to be drawn or waiting on the outcome of the 2017 Election and the required New Zealand First influence to place it into law.

There are occasions when the perception by the public, particularly with the introduction of Charter Schools, may be unclear as to whether the titles being used by individuals means that person is adequately qualified for them to have confidence in their professional judgement and practice. We believe that clarity around the use of the title of teacher is essential in order to avoid any misunderstanding by the public about the qualifications, registration status and professional oversight by the persons using the title of teacher.

The intent of the Bill is to lift the status of teachers by removing the ability of those who have not gained the qualifications above from representing themselves as ‘teachers’ by using that title. It is to reinforce that teaching is a ‘profession’ and like many other professions you cannot give yourself this title without doing the hard work to become a professional beforehand.

With several amendments to the Education Act 1989 over recent years, it is now possible to have individuals standing in front of our students who have no recognised teaching qualifications – therefore they should not be able to use the title of teacher.

They may use other titles such as educator, lecturer, tutor, or whatever but the title of teacher must be restricted to those who have completed recognised qualifications.

This will also provide a clear message for parents, caregivers and students that the individual using this title has in fact trained and completed that training as a ‘teacher’, understands how learning happens and has the skills to support our young people at all levels of their educational journey inside the compulsory sector.

New Zealand First is also committed to a nationwide ‘Education Conversation’, which would include extensive public participation and robust discussion between all stakeholders.

The goal is twofold. Firstly, to establish an agreed description of what success looks like for Kiwi students; what is the holistic outcome for our young people we are all striving for.

Secondly, to develop a collaborative, 30-year strategic plan for New Zealand education that would set an agreed yet flexible direction for our nation’s education system – a direction that is free from changes in government and ministers. We look to Finland for a working example of our goal.

We believe that returning to a high-trust model, removing the restrictions placed upon our teaching staff through the implementation of National Standards and arbitrary NCEA targets will also go some way to halting the exodus of talented teachers from the sector.

Couple this with our intended return to government-run teachers training colleges, our Up Front Investment Tertiary Education Policy requiring those interested in teaching to compete at point of educational entry for fully funded places, and the reintroduction of roaming specialist teachers, and we believe we have a recipe to reignite the inspiration and innovation for which our teaching workforce became world famous.

 

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