Fact Check: Overseas teachers are welcome but we need to get it right

Recent media stories about teacher numbers and registration requirements have suggested that the Education Council application process for teacher registration involves unnecessary bureaucracy and is a box-ticking exercise which leads to lengthy delays in processing applications.

We want to address those concerns with the assurance that the current registration criteria and process for obtaining a practising certificate is in place to uphold the high standard of the teaching profession in New Zealand. The Education Council team process applications as efficiently as possible and encourage applicants to disclose if they have any employment offers pending which means their application needs to be prioritised.

Becoming a registered teacher in New Zealand means that the applicant has met the initial requirements for entry to the teaching profession. This includes checking that the teacher is professionally trained and qualified to teach, of good character and fit to be a teacher, and has a satisfactory Police vet. Registration is only approved once and does not expire.

To maintain conduct and competence standards in the profession, all registered teachers are required to have a current practising certificate to teach in New Zealand. The certificate needs to be renewed every three years and allows teachers to be legally employed in schools, kura, kindergartens and in most positions in early childhood education centres.

To renew practising certificates, teachers must have satisfactory recent teaching experience, suitable professional development, and demonstrate they are of good character and fit to be a teacher (including a Police vet). A practising certificate provides assurance to the school or centre about a teacher’s ongoing fitness to teach students.

Overseas-trained teachers applying for New Zealand registration have been under the spotlight recently. Some applicants have expressed concern about their registration being delayed due to the evidence requirements.

To meet registration requirements all teachers must supply documentation to support their application. Obtaining and producing this evidence may lead to a longer processing time for overseas trained teachers. However, the evidence is an essential element required to verify the teachers are of the same calibre and competency as our New Zealand-trained professionals.

In these circumstances, it’s appropriate that the Council and government agencies require additional information to validate a teacher’s application and character. Where possible agencies work together to streamline the process to avoid any lengthy delays to applications, and there are plans to make it more efficient by including other agencies in this process.

Overseas-trained teachers must ensure that their qualifications meet the same standards as a New Zealand-trained teacher. There are now some countries that have pre-approved teaching qualifications, which means applicants from Canada, England and Wales, Fiji, Ireland and South Africa may be exempt from completing an International Qualifications Assessment (see NZQA list of pre-approved teaching qualifications). This pre-approval should make it easier and faster for applicants to have their application processed.

English language proficiency may also be required before applications can be finalised; this is also a requirement for our New Zealand-trained teachers entering an Initial Teacher Education qualification and is a requirement in many other countries. If the evidence is not initially provided by the teacher then this information-gathering may add time to processing an application.

The Council is working to register as many overseas teachers as possible, and where qualifications are not comparable, applications will be considered under the Discretionary Pathway. This means qualifications, teaching experience, appraisal material and professional development are considered to determine whether they meet the registration requirement of being ‘satisfactorily trained to teach'. This process is reassuring for students, parents and staff at a school or centre to know that the standard of teacher training is satisfactory to ensure quality education.

New Zealand has a long-standing reputation of the best teachers in the world. Students, parents and the wider community can be assured that well-trained and qualified teachers of good character are teaching. When we receive a complete application, the process for a New Zealand-trained teacher is a matter of days and for an overseas teacher, it takes a few weeks. Most importantly, the end result is a profession that we can all be proud of.

The website teachinnewzealand.co.nz has a wealth of information aimed at overseas-trained teachers keen to work in New Zealand.

 

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