GOVERNMENT PUSH FOR HIGHER STANDARDS IN TEACHER EDUCATION

  • Nick Smith
Education

Education Minister Nick Smith today announced the Government decision to establish a New Zealand Teaching Council in response to the Green Paper on Teacher Education and the report released today from the Education Review Office on Pre-Employment Teacher Training.

"The standard of our children's education is only as good as the person in front of the classroom. While I believe our teachers do a great job, many principals, first year teachers and trainees have expressed concerns about the quality of some of our teacher training programmes. If we are to achieve standards of excellence, these must be addressed. We must also address the muddle of agencies involved in approving teacher training programmes and put in place stronger accountability measures to improve their quality."

"The proposed Teaching Council would approve pre-employment teacher education programmes, define and oversee the standards required for entry to teaching in New Zealand schools, discipline members of the teaching profession, and promote best practice in teaching. The Teaching Council would include teachers, representatives of education sector groups such as boards of trustees and principals' organisations, Ministerial appointees and others with particular expertise in leading edge teacher education and teaching practice. The Council would be funded through a combination of Government contributions and teacher registration fees and will replace the Teacher Registration Board."

"I have long advocated the establishment of a professional body for teachers that has the same standing as those of professions such as nurses, engineers, doctors, accountants and lawyers. This is an important step in the increasing professionalism of teachers and giving them more responsibility for standards in their profession."

Dr Smith also released the Education Review Office's Report on Pre-Employment Teacher Training which raises serious questions about the quality of training programmes. It strongly recommends that graduation standards for all teacher trainees be defined, and that all graduates from publicly-funded teacher education and training programmes be required to meet these standards.

"Teacher education is so important to our country's long term success that we must put in place robust ongoing evaluation. We propose that the ERO will carry out three yearly reviews of all teacher education and training programmes. This will also improve the responsiveness of teacher trainers to the needs of schools. These changes are vital to raising the standards of New Zealand's education system."

Dr Smith said there would be consultation with the sector on the details of these proposals. Issues to be addressed in the consultation process include the membership of the NZ Teaching Council, its detailed role, functions and powers and the best process for the ongoing review of teacher training. The Ministry will report back by the end of April next year on these proposals.