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Development of the Code of Ethics

Legislative mandate and requirements

The NZ Teachers Council has a legislated responsibility to develop a Code of Ethics for all teachers under section 139AE(g) of the Education Act 1989. Developing the Code is also one of the ways the Council can fulfil its requirements under S139AE(a), providing professional leadership, and s139AE(b), encouraging best teaching practice.

Section 139AI further details the legislated requirements for development of the Code and its application once completed.

This section of the Act states that the New Zealand Teachers Council Code of Ethics:

  • is to be binding on all teachers who hold a practising certificate and on all authorised persons
  • must be developed by the Teachers Council as soon as practicable after the first elected members take office
  • involves reasonable consultation during its preparation with those who will be bound by it
  • is readily available free of charge and notified in the Gazette (including date the code comes into force) and through other methods as is reasonable to ensure those affected hear of it
  • is signed by the Chairperson of the Teachers Council.

Consultation 

In March 2003 the Council hosted a summit entitled "Working towards a Code of Ethics for teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand". The Minister of Education Hon Trevor Mallard and the Chair of the Teachers Council Mr Stan Rodger opened the summit with attendees representing a wide spectrum of the education sector including government agencies, teacher unions, principals, teacher education providers, school trustees and other sector representatives.

Four speakers addressed the meeting on different aspects of a Code of Ethics;

  • Ivan Snook, Emeritus Professor of Education at Massey University ,
  • Allan Hall, Associate Professor of Education at Waikato University ,
  • Paul Rishworth, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and
  • Sue Cherrington, Director of School of Early Childhood Education at Wellington College of Education

Feedback from these discussions was collected and analysed.

Some of the main issues that arose were:

  • How to ensure teachers have "ownership" of any code and the degree of consultation that should be undertaken in the development of this Code
  • What is thebalance between the aspirational and prescriptive/regulatory nature of the Code
  • What are the resources available for the ongoing development and management of the Code?
  • How/who is to regulate/enforce the Code?
  • How would a general Code translate into a working document for individual teachers, schools or centres?
  • What is the status of the Treaty of Waitangi in relation to the Code?
  • How to ensure ethical institutions/schools and centres as well as ethical teachers?

A motion from NZEI calling for recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi underpinning the code and adequate resources from the Minister was passed at the conclusion of the summit

Following the Summit a writers group (Alan Hall, Ivan Snook, and Colin Hicks) was contracted to "consider the existing material prepared by the previous working party" (TRB working party) and to offer a written basis suitable for the consultative process impending with teachers and interested parties. This work was completed and the report from the writers group was presented to Council at the meeting in July 2003. At that same meeting Council endorsed a draft action plan for the development of the Code from that point.

The written material including suggestions for a draft Code were used in an initial round of consultation. The Teachers Council working party used the feedback received to develop a refined version of a draft Code. This draft and the accompanying Maori translation, were distributed for extensive consultation with teachers, school adminiistrators and other interested parties.