Teachers vote no confidence in Teaching Council over fee increase

Anger at a jump in registration fees has prompted secondary teachers to vote no confidence in their own professional body, the Teaching Council.

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File image. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The Post Primary Teachers’ Association has told its members that as a result of the vote, the union will ask the council’s chief executive, Lesley Hoskin, and two board members who represent the secondary school sector, to resign.

But the PPTA’s president, Jack Boyle, has distanced himself from the resignation demand, saying he did not know why that was included in a letter sent to members on Monday.

He refused to comment further until he had spoken with his staff.

Earlier, Boyle told RNZ the no-confidence ballot followed the council’s announcement on Budget day that its fees would rise from $220 every three years to $157 a year, or $470 over three years, from February.

The fee rise was required because the government was ending funding that covered about 60 percent of the council’s costs.

Boyle said PPTA members agreed the council had failed to address concerns raised during consultation about the fee increase, and they did not have confidence the council could fulfil its core functions.

PPTA vice president Melanie Webber and president Jack Boyle announce that teachers have rejected the government's pay offer.

PPTA president Jack Boyle. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

But he said the ballot was about more than just the fee rise.

“It’s not just about the dollar amount, it is about representativeness, accountability and the functions of the council,” he said.

Boyle said few teachers voted for the seven elected members of the 13-member council and many were not sure their registration and disciplinary body should be spending their money raising the status of teaching and developing teacher leadership.

“Should we have a regulatory body, high standards and clear processes to ensure that young people have got the best possible teachers? I don’t think anybody is questioning that. Does the current legislation and the current council provide certainty that that’s their core job? Well perhaps not.”

Boyle told RNZ the union’s members would decide what to do next, but within a few hours it had told its members it would request the resignations.

The chief executive of the Teaching Council, Lesley Hoskin, said the union yesterday told her it wanted to work with the council, but within half-an-hour it was calling for the organisation to be disbanded.

Hoskin said she understood that teachers did not want to pay higher fees, but the council’s role in ensuring the best possible teachers was important.

“The role of the teaching council is a really different role to a union. I believe that we need everybody in there batting for teachers, but our role is not something a union can do.”

“They’re angry, they’re unhappy to pay this fee when government has paid it for quite a lot of years, but now is the time to show leadership and the PPTA are letting teachers down.”

Meanwhile, a petition opposing the fee rise had received 30,677 signature and its creator, early childhood teacher Anna Hamilton, said she planned to present it to Hoskin on Wednesday.

Hamilton said he had not met any teachers who supported the increase.

“I know that it’s only proposed to be $157 a year, but that’s actually doubling and I know that teachers are concerned about what they’re actually getting for that money.”

But Hoskin said the council would not change course because there was no other option.

“We’re an independent statutory body that can take independent policy advice to government and in fact are encouraged to do that and if you want independence then we also need to be independent financially.”

The council had been through many changes in recent years and Lesley Hoskin said part of the problem is teachers did not yet understand the council’s role.

She said the council’s new fees were similar to those charged by other social sector professionals.

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