Education Council gets $21m funding boost - but fees increase still likely for teachers



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The Education Council is to receive a funding injection of $21.34 million and has signalled an increase in certification and registration fees for teachers.

175781562.jpgThe Education Council says its predecessor, the New Zealand Teachers Council, was facing an $8.5m shortfall each year to deliver the services and functions legally required and those asked for by teachers.

Council chairperson Barbara Ala’alatoa says not increasing teacher fees for seven years created an unsustainable, untenable situation.

"We will explore a number of scenarios for introducing new fees following the expiry of collective contracts. We will consult with all teachers on how we might increase services fees by mid- 2018, and certification and registration fees by mid-2019," she says.
Parata says the Education Council inherited an "unsustainable financial position" from Teachers Council, yet has a much broader remit. She described the $21.34 million of new additional funding as a "significant investment by taxpayers" and has expressed her confidence in the professional body.

“The first year of the Education Council has shown how seriously it is working to strengthen the professional identity and status of teachers and the funding announced today will help with the transition to teachers taking more ownership of their professional body,” says Parata.

“The Education Council has a vital role to play in raising the status of teaching, leading the teaching profession and setting and maintaining high professional standards. In order for it to do this important work its financial position must be sustainable and it currently isn’t.”

Parata says the funding gives the Education Council a specific timeframe to establish the full cost of delivering all its functions as a professional body for teachers and to work out how it will become financially independent from the Government.

By July 2017 the Education Council will need to show the Government how it plans to increase its revenue and become financially self-sufficient by July 2019. It will need to develop a detailed business plan, investigate further revenue sources and consult with teachers on fees that have not increased from $220 for a three-year practicing certificate (equivalent to $73 per annum) since 2010.

The Education Council will be required to provide quarterly updates to the Minister on its financial position and progress, while the Ministry of Education will commission an independent review of the Council’s financial progress in a year’s time. The Minister will appoint a person with corporate finance expertise to the Education Council to help support its pathway to financial sustainability.

Teachers' union NZEI Te Riu Roa says the Government's decision to increase funding to the Education Council while imposing new accountability mechanisms underscores the need for teachers to have a democratic say on the future of their own professional body.

"The Government abolished the right of teachers to elect their own representatives to the Council in 2015.  Now teachers are being told that in 2018-19 they will be asked to foot a significant bill for an organisation that they do not have an elected voice on," says NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter.


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