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'Hundreds of teachers still working without current practising certificates'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Information released under the Official Information Act shows the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Education Review Office (ERO) are failing in their duties to administer the practising certificates of registered teachers in New Zealand.

It is a requirement of the Teaching Council that anyone in a teaching position, including principals, must hold a current practising certificate and to be issued with or to renew a current practising certificate teachers need to be annually appraised using the Standards for the Teaching Profession.

Regan Cunliffe requested information from the Teaching Council regarding the renewals of practising certificates by principals. This request was refused under s18(e) of the Official Information Act. The Teaching Council noted that the Education Review Office carried out audits on their behalf.

Mr Cunliffe then made a request regarding the audit process to ERO. ERO transferred the request back to the Teaching Council.

In responding, the Teaching Council was unable to state if any teacher they had issued a practising certificate for had been annually appraised as they "do not capture that information".

"NZEI and PPTA have argued that the appraisal process has become burdensome however the evidence suggests that in many cases the process isn’t even being followed, let alone enforced," Mr Cunliffe said.

The Teaching Council also provided information that in the data share of the week of 16th December, 851 teachers were matched against payroll data records to be without a current practising certificate where that practising certificate had expired more than 10 working days prior.

Section 374 of the Education Act is clear in regards to offences relating to those who do not hold a practising certificate and continue in employment outside of the 20 half day grace period.

Despite this, the Teaching Council does not deem a teacher as having committed an offence in that scenario.

Mr Cunliffe provided the Ministry of Education with a list of principals currently working without a current practising certificate and outside the 20 half day grace period.

One of those principals was Helensville Primary School Principal Deborah Heasman.

The Teaching Council granted Ms Heasman an extension before later renewing her practising certificate.

Official information released by the Helensville Primary School Board of Trustees showed that Principal Deborah Heasman had not had an annual appraisal completed in more than two years.

Official information released by Northcote Primary School about Ms Heasman, who was Principal there prior to joining Helensville in 2016, said that there were "no details relating to dates of appraisals or who carried out any appraisals."

"With a new year underway, parents should have confidence that those they entrust the care of their children to are lawfully employed and have met the standards required in order to be so," Mr Cunliffe said.

Parents, caregivers, and whānau can use the free Search the Register tool on the Teaching Council website to check the expiry date of teacher and principal practising certificates.

A Limited Statutory Manager was appointed to Helensville Primary School by the Ministry of Education in December.

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