Page 3952 - Week 09 - Thursday, 25 August 2011

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It is the responsibility of all of us involved in education to do all we can to ensure the safety of the students in our schools. This amendment addresses the very important aspect of the protection of children, with criminal history checks, including the assessment of spent convictions to be carried out as part of the teacher registration or permit to teach process in the ACT. As teachers must be registered with the institute before seeking employment in an ACT school, teacher registration or a permit to teach will be evidence that there is nothing in their history that would make them unfit to work with children.

To guide the assessment of criminal history the bill requires the development and application of guidelines on how an assessment of a person’s police certificate or criminal history is to be conducted. This would include the nature, gravity and circumstances of any offence and the relevance of the offence in relation to the teaching profession.

I am sure all members can see just how important this assessment is to ensuring the rights of children and young people and the expectation of their parents and carers to a safe environment in our schools. I also want to assure members that personal information that is required in regard to the assessment of spent convictions will meet the requirements of section 92 of the ACT Teacher Quality Institute Act 2010. Under this act a negative assessment of criminal history information is a reviewable decision. An applicant can seek a review of the decision through the Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The purpose of the amendments to the transitional arrangements for teacher registration in the territory is to include teachers who are not currently in a specific teaching role but are working in an education administration role. This amendment to the definition of “teacher currently teaching” will include qualified teachers currently working in the Catholic Education Office and in the central office of the Education and Training Directorate.

Under a new section the transitional arrangements have been included to address the circumstance where someone has been teaching but does not have formal teaching qualifications. This will allow for someone who has been teaching in a school with specialist knowledge, training, skills or qualifications to be granted a permit to teach in the subject they are teaching. An example of this is a tradesperson teaching a technical class in a secondary school, such as mechanics. This provision ensures the quality assurance of the permit to teach approval process in instances where a fully qualified teacher is not available and schools need to employ another person to continue to deliver the subject.

In conclusion, the ACT Teacher Quality Institute has an important responsibility to approve teachers to teach in the territory, to accredit ACT teacher education programs and lead the implementation of professional teacher standards in ACT schools. The spent convictions amendment to the ACT Teacher Quality Institute Act will ensure that teachers in the ACT will be assessed under a consistent set of guidelines. By lifting teacher quality we will, of course, help raise the status of the teaching profession and help attract the very best to teach in the ACT. The passage of these

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