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Glossary

Competence Authority

The Education Council’s Competence Authority deals with issues of teacher competence after a report or complaint has been referred to the Authority by one of our Competence Evaluators. The Competence Authority can decide to place conditions on the teacher’s work or annotate the public Teachers Register or cancel the teacher's practising certificate or registration. The Authority can operate in panels of at least three members.

Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC)

The Education Council’s Complaints Assessment Committee investigates and assesses reports and complaints about teacher conduct. It can’t take any disciplinary action against a teacher without the teacher’s agreement, but it can refer a report or complaint on to the New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal for it to consider. The CAC will act as the prosecutor when the Tribunal hears the case.

The Complaints Assessment Committee can operate in panels of at least three members. The CAC consists of up to five members of the Education Council and up to 20 other people. For more information about the CAC and the conduct process, click here.

Competence Evaluator

The Education Council’s Competence Evaluators work with teachers when reports or complaints are made to the Council raising competence issues. The Competence Evaluator will investigate and may try to reach an agreement with the teacher to place some conditions on the teacher’s work. They can also refer the teacher on to the Competence Authority, which has the power to impose conditions, or to cancel the teacher’s practising certificate or registration. To read about the process for dealing with competence issues, click here.

Disciplinary Tribunal (New Zealand Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal)

The Disciplinary Tribunal deals with issues about teacher conduct that are referred to it by the Education Council’s Complaints Assessment Committee. The Tribunal is similar to a court and has quite formal processes. It has broad powers to take action against a teacher, including cancelling their registration.

The Tribunal can operate in panels of three members, but it can deal with cases using a full panel of five members. The Tribunal consists of up to five members of the Education Council and up to 20 other people. For information about the Tribunal and its processes, click here.

Impairment

An impairment is anything about a teacher’s physical or mental health or their personality that may negatively affect their ability to teach competently and safely. It could include, for example, an alcohol or drug addiction, or a mental health condition like depression, or a personality trait like an anger problem. For information about the Education Council’s process for dealing with impairment issues, click here.

Impairment Committee

The Education Council’s Impairment Committee assesses possible impairment issues that have been referred to it by the Complaints Assessment Committee, the Disciplinary Tribunal or the Competence Authority. It reports back to the relevant body with recommendations about precautions or support that might be needed to ensure the teacher can teach competently and safely. For information about the Impairment Committee’s role, click here.

Mandatory reporting

Schools and early childhood centres must report to the Education Council about their teachers in certain cases – for example if they dismiss a teacher for any reason, or if a teacher resigns after a conduct or competence issue has been raised. This is called mandatory reporting because it’s a legal requirement. For more information, click here.

Serious misconduct

There are special rules and processes for dealing with serious misconduct: schools and early childhood centres must report cases of serious misconduct to the Education Council, and if our Complaints Assessment Committee thinks there may have been serious misconduct the Committee has to refer this on to the Disciplinary Tribunal.

To be “serious misconduct”, a teacher’s behaviour must come within the following general definition and meet the criteria for reporting serious conduct identified by the Education Council:

  • The general definition of serious misconduct is that it is conduct that adversely affects the well-being or learning of one or more students (or is likely to do so), or that reflects adversely on the teacher’s fitness to teach, or that could bring the teaching profession into disrepute.
  • A list of the criteria for reporting serious misconduct can be found here. It includes, for example, physical abuse of students, inappropriate relationships with students, theft, using illegal drugs, and looking at pornography while at work.

Specified offences

“Specified offences” is the term used in the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 to refer to a number of very serious criminal offences that will result in the Education Council cancelling a teacher’s registration.

Teacher

The conduct and competence processes cover any “teacher”, which includes anyone who is or was registered as a teacher, or who holds or used to hold a limited authority to teach.

This broad definition therefore allows the Education Council to investigate not only current teachers but also those who used to be registered or used to hold a limited authority.

Triage Committee

The Education Council’s Triage Committee carries out initial assessments of reports and complaints about teachers. It looks at the type of issue that’s been raised and decides on the appropriate process and next steps. For information about the Triage Committee’s role, click here.