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Government Funding Secures Education Council Work Programme

17 November 2016

The Education Council says the investment of over $21m in the organisation gives it time to start a meaningful discussion about the necessity to increase teachers’ fees.

Earlier today the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, confirmed $21.34m of transitional funding will be paid to the Education Council over 2.5 years to support the Council to become self-sufficient.

This funding will be contingent on meeting five key performance measures.

Council chairperson Barbara Ala’alatoa thanked the Minister for supporting the Council’s proposal to build a more sustainable business model and for sharing the vision of an independent teaching profession.

“Fees haven’t increased in seven years yet we have doubled the range of functions of our predecessor, the Teachers Council. We are responsible for elevating the status of teachers through leadership, robust regulatory frameworks and growing capability building. We must also ensure we meet our requirements under the Vulnerable Children Act and police vetting services.

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

“The Education Council identified that the Teachers Council was facing an $8.5m shortfall each year to deliver not just the functions legally required, but those teachers have asked for.

“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.

“This investment means we can build a financially robust organisation to deliver all the quality professional services teachers rightly deserve.

“Teachers, through consultation, will play a key role in this process. This is about the profession assuming responsibility for its future and building a progressive, sustainable, professional body.”

Background

The Education Council was established in 2015 to take over from the Teachers Council. It has a significantly expanded statutory role, including providing professional leadership to the profession, establishing a code of professional responsibility, maintaining a disciplinary regime for teachers, and undertaking quality assurance, including ensuring vetting of prospective teachers and setting teacher standards for entry to the profession.

However, there has been no fee increase in the sector since 2010 to support the Education Council to carry out its expanded statutory role, and to fund the increased number of staff needed to carry out these additional functions. The current fees also do not cover the operating shortfall the Education Council inherited from the Teachers Council or the increased costs involved in establishing and maintaining new teacher registration criteria, standards for ongoing practice, criteria for the issue of practising certificates, and a code of professional responsibility by 1 July 2017, as required under the Education Act 1989.

Questions and Answers

How is the Education Council currently funded?

The Council is mainly funded by the registration fees charged to teachers to become registered and renew practising certificates. There are around 101,000 teachers with current practising certificates.

The Council is able to fix fees for a range of services including registration and practising certificates. Our income from sources other than fees and registration is relatively low.

How much might fees increase to?

The cost of a teaching certificate is currently around $220 every three years. This has been covered for teachers in state and state integrated schools by the Government in an one-off agreement until 2018/9 under teachers’ and principals’ collective agreements. We estimate that fee may need to increase to around $470 – or to about $155 a year.

We will explore and consult on how revenue can be derived from other services fees to contribute to meeting some of our operating costs.

What was your annual operating shortfall?

We currently receive $7-8 million annually from registration and certification fees. We identified, that by not increasing teacher fees for seven consecutive years, an operating shortfall of;

·         2016/17 - $4,934m

·         2017/18 – $6,946m

·         2018/19 - $9,458m

How did this shortfall happen?

We inherited an operating shortfall from the Teachers Council which kept teachers’ practising certificate fees at 2010 levels. In addition, our broader mandate literally means we have twice as much work to do so our costs have increased as a result. There are also increased costs that come with implementing legal requirements to change processes for mandatory reporting, implementation of the Vulnerable Children Act and police vetting. The cost of business has also increased during those seven years.

What’s the time frame for a fees increase?

We will consult with teachers on increasing fees for services other than registration and certification starting next year in order to implement those new fees by mid -2018. Consultation on increasing registration and certification fees will start in 2018 in order to implement those new fees by mid-2019.

What KPIs must the Education Council meet?

The Council has five key deliverables:

·         Appoint a chief financial officer by November 2016

·         Develop an interim business plan by January 2017

·         Develop a high quality, detailed business plan by July 2017

·         Confirmation of a sustainable long term plan by October 2017

·         Finalise revenue proposals in time to establish the necessary fees by the expiry of collective contracts.

What role will the new Council appointee play?

The Minister’s appointment of a person with corporate finance experience to the governing Council will shore up the Council’s strategic strength by bringing additional expert financial experience. This person would be expected to have strong sector experience.

How will the Education Council report on progress?

We will provide quarterly updates to the Ministry of Education on progress, our financial position and how we are addressing a more sustainable revenue model. We will summarise our progress and make it available to our profession.

How will you consult with teachers on the fees increase?

We have an established track record of consultation with teachers through previous and current work. This phased approach will give time for genuine and full consultation with teachers.

What are your plans for delivering a sustainable funding model?

We calculated the cost of delivering to our broader functions and broached this with the Minister to discuss our options for future sustainability. Part of this included employing a chief financial officer. We expect to develop a robust and sustainable business plan which will set out the costs of each function as set out in the Education Act 1989, and how we will become self-sufficient in meeting each of those costs.

How do your fees compare to other professional organisations?

This is not about cost – it’s about investment in a valued profession. If we were to look at simple monetary cost, teachers fees are the lowest compared to occupations such as nurses. Teachers pay fees every three years – it’s $220.80 to renew a practising certificate, while nurses charge around $110 every 12 months.

Social workers pay around $368 a year while occupational therapists pay $558 each year.

What has the Education Council achieved in its first year?

We are responsible for elevating the status of the teaching profession through providing professional leadership, helping build capability and leading professional development.

We have developed a Centre for Leadership Excellence and held one national and ten regional fora aimed at developing leadership capability for Community of Learning leaders.

We are working to develop a new Code of Professional Responsibility and values for the profession for 1 July 2017. We are responsible for developing the criteria by which teachers operate – the Practising Teacher Criteria – and are reviewing those to ensure they support the needs of modern teaching. We support professional leaders and principals in their appraisal of staff.  

We have refined and strengthened our processes for conduct and competence of teachers, developing more robust and efficient processes. We have created in house legal and investigations teams, and developed better rules for managing this function. We have delivered a strategic plan and supporting action plan in consultation with teachers.

We are moving towards an online practising certificate renewal system for many teachers making it quicker, more secure and convenient.

How will the money be used?

This investment will enable us to progress on delivering our work programme as set out in our strategic plan, while building capability within the organisation to deliver on the work programme. It will ensure the current work underway in the last year remains on track for delivery and provides the space to consult with teachers over those increases.