Changes to Teacher Registration Act
Changes to the Teacher Registration Act were introduced to the NT Parliament in February. The Bill was referred to a scrutiny committee, which will give interested parties the opportunity to raise concerns, and likely be voted on in May.
The development of legislation followed an extensive consultation process conducted by the Teacher Registration Board (TRB) with the AEU and other stakeholders since April last year. Our union has worked closely with the Independent Education Union to ensure our members’ voices and experiences were considered.
Above all, unions have sought to ensure that any changes to the Act maintain high standards and safeguards for the teaching profession while not imposing unfair or overly onerous requirements on teachers to maintain registration.
Teacher registration was introduced in the NT in 2004 and the last changes to the Act were in 2010. Thus, many of the proposed changes aim to update the legislation to better reflect current practice and the evolving role of the Board. For example, the Board is responsible for accrediting Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers, but the existing Act is silent on this aspect of its work.
The Bill contains reforms which improve on current appeal procedures.
Another impetus for change was to better align teacher registration requirements with other laws and processes, such as the working with children clearance (Ochre cards). In the revised Act there are more safeguards to prevent those with sexual and serious criminal offences from teaching, and gives the Board more capacity to liaise with relevant authorities such as police and other registration authorities.
Numerous changes relate to administrative processes, allowing the Board more flexibility in decision-making procedures. The Board will now be able to make out-of-session decisions, rather than having to wait for a scheduled meeting.
The Bill contains reforms which improve on current appeal procedures. Currently, someone wishing to appeal a Board decision must apply to the Local Court, an expensive process which may take time. In the new regime, appeals may be lodged with NTCAT, a much cheaper and more efficient forum.
The changes are unlikely to affect most teachers, as the essential requirements applying for and maintaining registration will remain.
In some instances, changes to the law will require the drafting of new policies and procedures, and the AEU and other stakeholders will be consulted on their development.
This article was published in the Term 1 2019 edition of Territory Educator.
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