Untrained Teachers Coming to a School Near You.
There’s been quite a lot on the go this week in educational politics.
But this one is one that should have every parent, school, and child very concerned.
At the release of the plans for partnership schools, there was very little surprise that they could hire who ever they liked as teachers, so that specially skilled and experts in different fields could work in these schools. It was advertised for the likes of Willie Apirana or Tana Umaga could be in front of a classroom and motivate and inspire children across a range of contexts and learning. Quite why they would want to be in a classroom instead of what they already do quite well, I don’t know.
However, at the same time, the Minister tightened the reigns over the Education Council, and the regulations around appraisal and registration were put under the spotlight.
This week however, the Minister has made a quick amendment to the Education Legislation Bill, that will essentially allow unqualified people to teach in state schools.
“The proposed amendment to the Education Legislation Bill allows schools to establish a “trainee teaching” position for a school.
According to NZEI, the primary teachers’ union, a “last-minute” change lets schools cheaply hire an “unqualified person in an unsupervised teaching role” while they did an initial teacher training programme.
There has already been a lot made of the Teach First programme, where after a ridiculously short training period, teachers are pushed out into the real world with qualification to teach in the classroom, and many criticisms have been made of it.
But why does the Minister suddenly need more teachers? We’re told that only 15% of graduates land a full time job.
Experienced teachers cost money through salary to keep on staff. By reducing the number of experienced staff with jobs (through whatever method) they can be replaced by beginning staff who are paid less, due to the step that they will be starting on.
At a recent meeting, when discussing the negotiations between NZEI and the Ministry for the latest collective agreement where the Education Council will be paying for the registration of teachers, Hekia Parata mentioned that she finds it strange that teachers don’t want to pay money into the Education Council; and that instead of paying into the union (NZEI) we should be paying into the Education Council.
(Side Note: I might actually consider this if I had some kind of say on the Education Council; but if all the members on the council are simply appointed by the minister herself, then it is undemocratic and does not warrant my ‘subscription’.)
In addition to this, David Seymour has weighed in on a different factor, but also brought into question the place of unions in the Secondary sector. “But what I would say is that all good, hard working teachers up and down the country might want to ask themselves if they want to be a member of an organisation that puts ideology ahead of kids like this.” – David Seymour
What does this mean? Well, quite clearly, Hekia and her understudy don’t want the unions to exist. If teachers began paying into the Education Council instead of NZEI, then the union would cease to exist. If teachers leave unions on ‘moral’ grounds, then they will cease to exist. With all the control held within the Education Council, the Ministry can begin to tighten the screws even more on registration, and essentially drive out existing teachers. This has already begun to happen by using the whole vulnerable children act and finding “predators” that exist in the system. Each new case of child abuse from teachers or workers in schools as fuel to the fire of tightening the registration process, until even those of us who are great teachers, trained fully, and have a wealth of experience will be forced out as well.
But it’s okay. Because even before they have completed training (which is already so minimal it’s under question) those enrolled in the Teach First programme can begin teaching in permanent positions around the country to replace the teachers who leave.
No doubt, Hekia will come out with her standard response “It’s simply not true”, and the fact that there is no evidence to suggest this will happen is not a reason to ignore this as a threat in the future. The logical steps and the progression of this thing called GERM is taking place, and we’re seeing it happen right in front of it. They are put in for good reason, such as the registration process to weed out ‘those’ teachers, but their bigger mission opens it up to much more deviant possibilities.
Watch this space people. Watch this space!