Registration cost rises heap more pressure on teachers

By Waimanea Nuri

By Waimanea Nuri, Te Rito Journalism cadet

Teachers are reconsidering their future in the classroom as registration costs increase.

That comes as the Ministry of Education says by next year 100 more teachers might be needed in the secondary sector. 

But teachers took a blow this week when their professional body, the NZ Teaching Council increased the cost of a three-year practising certificate - to be paid in advance - to almost $500.

The Teaching Council’s purpose is to ensure safe and high-quality leadership, teaching and learning for children and young people by ensuring teachers are competent, fit to practice and accountable for the way in which they teach. 

Rotorua teacher Kahurangi Hodge says the 60 per cent increase is an added pressure for teachers in Aotearoa. 

“The price of teaching has risen too high to the point where three of my friends who were fulltime teachers opted to become relievers."

Stressful occupation

She claims that teaching the next generation is stressful enough as it is, making this inflated registration for teachers "ridiculous."

“If we want rangatira mō apōpō (future generations), we must seriously consider their education and make sure we have qualified teachers to carry on the good work."

Reporoa teacher Kirsti Treanor says she is lucky because her employer is paying for her registration fees this year but before this, she had always questioned what exactly it did for teachers in Aotearoa to have it.

Treanor says teachers with families are working at schools not just for the love of teaching but also to see their children complete their education. 

She says because the sector has costly prices and unpredictable processes, by the time their children graduate from high school, they have already left their jobs due to the lack of support.

“I love my job but the increase in fees is absurd and I can only wonder how this will benefit the future of our tamariki." 

'Hard to get by'

Tāmaki teacher Katarina Haverkamp finds it absurd that recent graduates like herself must wait at least four months before receiving their registration certificates, let alone having to pay additional fees.

She claims that due to Covid-19, the Teaching Council was unable to examine her registration, which made life very challenging for her and her whānau.

“With what little I had, it was hard to get by.”

Haverkamp says prices for basic necessities are going up and it's already difficult to get by. 

“For teachers, it's going to be much tougher than anyone could have ever imagined.”

In a statement, the Teaching Council told teaomā that, since it was established in 2015, "the government has funded more than 50% of the Teaching Council's annual operating costs to deliver its functions as required under the law but it was always intended that the council be fully funded by teachers. 

Offering alternatives

"There's no denying that the Aotearoa education workforce is under strain, and some teachers will find it difficult to pay the new charge and levy, but we're now trying to introduce alternatives for teachers to pay fees over time in instalments rather than all at once every three years."

"Unsurprisingly, the majority of teachers who provided feedback on the proposed fee and tax increases were strongly against it but, in line with other professions, it is expected that they pay a fee and levy to fund a professional body, and gain both individual and collective benefits from this."

Meanwhile, another professional body, the New Zealand Law Society charges its members $1140 a year in registration fees.

Engineering New Zealand, the professional body for engineers, is proposing an increase to $506 a year next year for registration and seeking feedback now on the proposal.