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Education Advocacy Group "Deeply Concerned" Over Decision

Education Advocacy Group "Deeply Concerned" About Education Council Decision

Decision shows Education Minister has lost faith in NZ’s teachers

An Auckland-based education advocacy group says that this week’s announcement that the new Education Council will be led by people appointed only by the Ministry of Education is alarming, and demonstrates a lack of faith in and support for New Zealand’s teachers.

COMET Auckland Chief Executive Susan Warren says: “We welcome the change to ensuring at least five members of the new Education Council will be registered teachers, but we are deeply concerned that despite overwhelming advice to the contrary, the Select Committee is refusing to allow any of the members to be elected by the profession. Instead, all will be Ministerial appointees.

“A decision of this nature would be completely unacceptable for a professional body in any other field. The Education Council needs to have credibility, expertise and independence so it can act in the interests of learners without being swayed by political pressures.

“It is hard to see how that can be achieved unless at least a few positions on the Council are appointed by the profession. The Education Council has potential to make a real difference for education in New Zealand, with its broader goals and powers than the current Teachers Council. However, the Education Council can only be effective if it has the confidence of the profession.

“The announcement this week indicates that the Minister has lost all faith in our nation’s teachers – hardly a positive sign for the future of education.”

COMET Auckland is also surprised by the decision to restrict university and polytechnic boards to twelve members.

Warren says: “Limiting boards to twelve members will severely restrict institutions’ ability to ensure a range of board representation from Māori and Pasifika communities and from employers. We would like to see the Select Committee’s evidence that smaller boards are in any way more efficient or effective. Given the Government’s stated goals to increase the number of Māori and Pasifika students studying at tertiary level, and to improve the relevance of tertiary qualifications, this seems a backward step.”

The decision has been met with dismay from the school and tertiary teaching sector at large and several educational organisations and commentators, including Educational Institute secretary Paul Goulter, who has called the bill’s announcement ‘an attack on teachers and the public education system’.


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