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Minister undermines State Sector Act – PPTA

Minister undermines State Sector Act – PPTA

The education minister is undermining the principles of integrity and honesty in teacher appointments by interfering with a legal decision designed to avoid cronyism.

Today Hekia Parata introduced a supplementary order paper (SOP) to the Education Legislation Bill attempting to water down State Sector Act requirements that allschool appointments be made openly, transparently and on merit.

This is despite a legal case taken by PPTA resulting in an agreement between Teach First NZ, Auckland University, the Ministry of Education and the union to work together to uphold the act.

“Our understanding is there has been a government SOP introduced, without consultation and with indecent haste, which would create a separate employment process for student teachers,” PPTA general secretary Michael Stevenson said.

The SOP had been introduced late in the piece, with no opportunity for public submissions, he said.

“It is a particularly strange move given what we know about the risk that schools may engage in cronyism and nepotism in appointments and because the Employment Authority ruled just last year that it was important the principle of fair appointments be upheld.

“Teach First deserves credit for backing their applicants to win positions in a fair appointment process,” he said.

The minister is now cutting right across the agreement reached earlier this year, Stevenson said.

“There is no good faith in this action. She is actually undermining the Teach First programme by clumsily offering them preferential legal status that they do not need,” he said.

“If the minister wants schools to be able to make appointments that are not subject to legal requirements for openness and honesty, she has that in charter schools. There is absolutely no justification for spreading shabby practices into the public sector where standards should be higher.”

A press release from Teach First NZ states; The agreement follows the November 2015 determination of the Employment Relations Authority and enables the programme to continue to provide excellent teachers for schools serving low-decile communities. From 2017 participants who have been selected for the programme will apply for advertised vacancies in schools. Chief Executive of Teach First NZ Shaun Sutton says the new process will benefit the schools and students the programme serves.

“We are very curious about why the minister sees the need to suddenly change the law now, and what’s more without the usual process of public submissions,” Stevenson said.

“The minister is trying to fix a problem that isn’t there. We can certainly think of some real problems she can turn her mind to if she hasn’t enough to do,” he said.

PPTA believes the State Sector Act provisions around appointments are critical for schools to follow, to protect employees rights, but also to protect the government and tax payer from poor employment decisions.

“Any changes to these principles should be discussed widely and fully consulted on, not rushed through parliament in an underhanded manner.”

ENDS

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