I opened my hotmail inbox the other day. The junk emails had the usual lovely guy from Nigeria requesting my bank details to share his huge inheritance with me. One email caught my eye. It was from the ” Teachers’ council of Aeoteoroa.”

The ” Teachers’  Council” is meant to be the professional body for all teachers in New Zealand. Teachers need to gain approval from this council to be allowed to teach in New Zealand. They are then issued a card. Few teachers flash  their card at social functions. I lost mine a few months back trying to buy drinks with it at a bar.  I’ve struggled on without it.

The email informed me that I would need to pAy $500 rather than $220 for the privilege of teaching in New Zealand. There is a major teacher shortage in New Zealand. No one is queuing up  for my job. Being required to pay substantial extra money for the privilege is bizarre.

The email said that this government has removed  the subsidy for the Teaching council as the professional body for teachers. It then emphasised what the council does to enhance my daily life as a teacher. It didn’t inspire me to reach for my credit card.

Last year this government promoted a huge revamp of our schooling system. They have since scaled this back, like many of their initial policy initiatives. It was poorly conceived and the opposition was vocal.

So “Tomorrows’  schools lite” is the result. Part of this watered down reform is to develop training  for school leadership. This is A worthwhile initiative. But it appears teachers are now being asked to fund this political initiative.

The Council currently ensures registered teachers meet the professional standards required. It takes disciplinary action against teachers who fail to meet these standards.

But The huge  increase in the fees for the privilege of teaching in New Zealand was mainly justified by the need to pay for leadership training in our schools. This is a key part of the ” Tomorrow’s Schools Lite reforms.”

This is like requiring the workers at Fisher and Paykel to pay for the training of managers at their firm. This may be a world first, in New Zealand.

I am 55 years old. I enjoy classroom teaching but am unlikely to experience a late spurt on the career ladder. My Principal frequently assures me of this.

I’m actually okay with my hourly pay rate. I enjoy the guys I teach. I like my colleagues, except for one. I enjoy the management, despite my lack of career progression. They do their best under difficult conditions.

Doctors and Lawyers and Accountants have professional bodies that ensure professional standards. But their  main role is gate keeping to maintain their pay and conditions and status. This gate keeping is the essential hallmark of any ” professional body.” In New Zealand whenever there is a shortage of teachers the gates are thrown wide open to overseas teachers.

I will finish my less mediocre teaching career doing the best by my students. But I have no desire to pay a lot more money to fund a government initiative to train my bosses.

Peter Lyons teaches Economics at Saint Peter’s College in Epsom and has written several Evonomics texts.


  1. Pity your writer is so misinformed and has little idea of the importance of having a strong independent professional body driving education, rather than having it driven by the politicians as has been the case up until now..
    I also find it sad that your writer finds an increase of $1.60 a week, yes that’s it correctly, one third of a cup of Latte a week a huge increase that motivates him to spend so much time writing how he doesn’t want to pay it. He also forgets to mention all professional bodies generate a cost to belong. Podiatrists for instance are paying more than the new fee EVERY YEAR! Plumbers pay 300 a year etc. There are costs to belong. There are costs to have independence.
    I must say I was also very disappointed in the Vice President of PPTA on the Breakfast show as well, because she basically lied through omission and innuendo PPTA I am sure would have been aware of the proposed increases. PPTA I am sure. would have been briefed on them… PPTA would know why they are necessary and worst of all, for her to sarcastically state that the council only did and should do was to issue a plastic card every 3 years, showed a total lack of leadership. Its easy to be a leader when things are going well. Its harder when you have to stand up for what is right!!

  2. Mr. Lyons, as a retired teacher, I would be interested in your opinion of where the New Zealand Educational Institute fits within the current status of NZ education. During my career, this “union” for the teaching “trade” aided the progression of teachers’ salaries and work conditions. Perhaps we can look forward to an article on the current value of teachers as “professionals”enrolled with NZEI, and its past successes?


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