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Govt should amend Education Act - Name Dangerous Teachers

Early Childhood Council says Government should amend Education Act to ensure dodgy and dangerous teachers are named publicly

The Early Childhood Council (ECC) is calling on Government to amend the Education Act to ensure dodgy and dangerous teachers are named publicly.

CEO Peter Reynolds said today the ECC was ‘delighted’ when Parliament’s Regulation Review Committee declared the current secrecy of teachers’ disciplinary proceedings outside the provisions of the Education Act.

But early childhood centres did not trust the Teachers Council would go far enough in its consequent undertaking to make the workings of its teacher disciplinary body more open. And it would be preferable if Government legislated.

The status quo was ‘totally unacceptable’, Mr Reynolds said. And Teachers Council public statements about its intentions were not promising.  

‘They don’t talk about the importance of openness. They talk instead about making their starting point the naming of teachers, but emphasise giving themselves more power to implement and enforce name suppression, and it taking months to make changes.’

Mr Reynolds said the public had a right to know when those charged with caring for their children failed to meet acceptable standards. And such transparency was fundamental to the maintenance of essential confidence in ECE centres and other educational organisations.

Mr Reynolds said if there was ever a job for news media in education, this was it.

‘I hope journalists test and re-test the new system to ensure there is real change.  And I hope, next time a teacher does something to hurt children, they ask: “Did the Teachers Council know the identity of this teacher? Did they hide it? And if so, why?”’

Early childhood centres wanted, above all else, to ensure children were safe, and it was ridiculous the Teachers Council had been protecting misbehaving teachers from public scrutiny.

Mr Reynolds said he did not agree with all names being published.

There were a small number of circumstances in which publication of a name might prevent parents or children coming forward with information. And in those cases it might be appropriate to suppress a name.

‘The problem is that the Teachers Council is held in such low esteem that few early childhood centres trust them with judgments such as these, and in the absence of tighter legislation and regulation it is assumed they will continue to suppress essential information.’

Mr Reynolds said the Early Childhood Council wanted new law that ‘spelt out in black and white’ that Teachers Council disciplinary proceedings should be open to the public unless there was a very compelling reason for it to be closed, and that acceptable reasons should be spelt out in law.

The Early Childhood Council is New Zealand’s largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres. It has more than 1100 member centres employing more than 7000 teachers, and caring for tens of thousands of children.

ENDS

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