National aims to scrap teacher registration costs after Teaching Council proposal to double fees

National leader Todd Muller and deputy leader Nikki Kaye.
National leader Todd Muller and deputy leader Nikki Kaye. Photo credit: Getty

National is proposing to scrap teacher registration fees after more than 30,000 people signed a petition urging the Teaching Council not to double costs.  

The Teaching Council plans to charge teachers $157 per year from February 2021, up from $73.60 a year under the current system which charges them $220.80 every three years. 

The Teaching Council said moving certification to a yearly payment system means teachers "won't pay a large lump sum once every three years", and that the extra money would help them "get on a secure financial footing". 

But the proposal sparked backlash with the online petition describing it as "outrageous" and it has the backing of National's education spokesperson Nikki Kaye who said it's "unacceptable". 

Kaye announced on Tuesday that if National is elected to power in September, the teacher registration fees will be scrapped and funded directly by the Government at a cost of around $16 million a year. 

It would require a law change to the Education Act, removing the power of the Teaching Council to charge teachers for registration fees and other costs relating to its functions. 

But Kaye said taking that power away would not change the Teaching Council's role as an independent entity, and that it would still have the independence to set its own work programme. 

"New Zealand has had long-standing teacher supply and retention issues," Kaye said. "This is a small way that we can reduce costs for teachers and is one of a number of policies National intends to implement to reinforce the value of educators in our society."

Budget 2020 provided $16.5 million to support the Teaching Council and "reduce the impact on teachers as they move to an annual practicing certificate fee". 

But Kaye said that "simply pushes out the problem". 

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said it is "disappointing to see National politicise" teacher registration fees.

"Registration fees have been in place for a long time and most professions have a registration fees and teachers are no different."

National has already announced other education policy proposals. 

Kaye said in November National would replace the Government's 'fees-free' tertiary policy with either student loan write-offs, additional payments for living costs or amending it to be more targeted. 

National would also reverse the merger of New Zealand's 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics as a single entity, and proposed reinstating partnership schools. 

Some of National's policy proposals:

  • Replace 'fees free' policy
  • Reinstate partnership schools
  • Reverse polytechnics merger
  • 'Child Passports' to show children's' progress
  • "Unannounced spot-checks" for early childhood learning centres
  • Reduce teacher to child ratio in schools
  • More support for meth and alcohol babies
  • Ensure all kids can learn at least one-second language in primary school
  • Have one New Zealand university in the world's top 50 by 2030