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Transforming Teacher Registration

The Teachers Registration and Standards Act 2004 has been amended following the passing of the Teachers Registration and Standards (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2020 in October last year and the approval of the Teachers Registration and Standards Regulations 2021. Changes will come into effect from 1 July 2021.

These amendments, which follow extensive consultation with teachers, employers, unions and the broader community, will help the Teachers Registration Board protect the integrity of the teaching professions and ensure only fit and proper persons have the care of children. 

Overview
Five-year registration term
Fees
Board membership
Board functions
Board committees
Consistency & compliance
Special authorities
Notification requirements
Code of conduct
Highly Accomplished & Lead Teachers
FAQs

Overview

The following outlines some of the changes introduced by the Teachers Registration and Standards (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2020 and the Teachers Registration and Standards Regulations 2021 following extensive community consultation.

Aspects of the Act that were not the focus of the Amendment Act will essentially be replicated in the new legislation.

The key elements of the reform are:

  • 5-year registration
    More flexible registration including extending the registration term from three to five years.
  • Fees
    Changes to the fee structure will allow teachers a choice of paying some fees upfront or annually. Previously, all fees for a three-year term were paid upfront.
  • Board membership
    Board membership reflects modern board governance which will increase member capability and enhance board performance whilst recognising the importance of teacher nomination of 6 practising teachers to the board.
  • Board functions
    Changes to the Act will enable the board to provide greater support and guidance to teachers, whilst recognising quality teaching and leadership.
  • Board committees
    Board committees will be enhanced by the inclusion of qualified non-board members to provide professional assistance and expertise when required.
  • Ensure consistency and compliance regarding the welfare of children
    Child safety measures have been strengthened, supporting the board’s commitment to ensuring the welfare and best interests of children.
  • Special authorities
    Special authority to teach holders will be required to meet the same rigorous obligations as registered teachers.
  • Teacher notification of incompetence
    Reporting obligations have been strengthened to ensure only fit and proper persons have the care of children.
  • New Powers to suspend
    Powers to suspend teacher registration have been adjusted in line with national child safety measures.
  • Code of Conduct
    A Code of Conduct outlining the professional and personal conduct, and professional competence expected of teachers will be developed by the board in consultation with stakeholders.
  • Highly Accomplished & Lead Teachers (HALT)
    Highly Accomplished and Lead teachers will be recognised and promoted through the recording of a teacher’s status on the Register of Teachers and on certificates issued.

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Five-year registration term

Teaching is an important profession and mandatory registration acknowledges the unique professional qualifications, knowledge and skills required to practice teaching.

Registration will now be more flexible, with the registration term extended from three to five years allowing teachers to focus on the business of teaching.  Teachers will now only have to renew their registration every five years.

Changes in how registration fees are processed will also allow teachers to choose how they pay their fees. There will be an application fee payable on initial registration or renewal of registration and an annual fee that can be paid either upfront for the full five years or on an annual basis.

Consultation has now been held with all stakeholders around the setting of fees. The new fee structure will be announced once final appoval has been recieved.

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Fees

Changes in how registration fees are processed will also allow teachers to choose how they pay their fees.

Under the amended Act, an application fee for registration or renewal is paid upfront, along with $25 for a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check. Applicants can then choose to pay annual fees upfront for between one year and five years. Paying multiple years upfront will avoid CPI increases for those years.

Fees were last increased in August 2014.

The new fee structure is set out here.

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Board membership

The board will now comprise between 10 and 14 members who are appointed by the Governor on the nomination of the Minister for Education. This size reflects modern board governance practices and will enhance overall board performance by building member capability.

Board members will be required to have knowledge, skills and experience in teacher education and matters affecting employers of practising teachers.

A minimum of six practising teachers must be on the board at all times.

Four teachers must be nominated by the Australian Education Union SA branch with at least one practising in each of the following areas:

  • one in pre-school education
  • one in primary education and
  • one in secondary education.

Two teachers must be nominated by the Independent Education Union SA branch.

At least one board member must be a legal practitioner to provide professional expertise on matters of teacher conduct and performance, and disciplinary issues and one member will be the parent of a school student who represents community interest. The remaining board members may come from teacher employers, associations, unions, committees or higher education providers with at least half of the members being registered teachers.

Before nominating a member for appointment to the board, the Minister will call for expressions of interest under scheme requirements identified in Part 3 of the Act.

These changes will strengthen the board, empowering its members to use their expertise and knowledge to effectively manage matters of teacher performance, quality teaching and pre-service teacher course accreditation.

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Board functions

As the governing body, the board performs a range of functions that uphold the objectives of the Act. The amendments to the Act will allow the board to further support and promote the teaching profession through:

  • mandating accreditation of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs;
  • development and maintenance of a Code of Conduct for registered teachers and special authority holders;
  • the commission and support of research and data collection relating to the teaching profession; and
  • the recognition of quality teaching and leadership in the teaching profession – Highly Accomplished and Lead teachers (HALT).
     

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Board committees

The work of board committees will be enhanced by their ability to seek outside guidance and expertise from various professionals when required.

Changes to the Act include provisions that allow persons other than board members to be appointed to committees established for the purposes under Part 5: Registration; or Part 7: Action to deal with unprofessional conduct or incapacity of teachers.

If the Registrar has reasonable grounds to suspect that a teacher’s capacity to teach is seriously impaired by an illness or disability affecting the teacher’s behavior or competence as a teacher, the board will assemble a committee to conduct an inquiry.

Two of the committee members must be board members, one a practising teacher and one a legal practitioner, and now under changes to the Act, a qualified non-board member may be included if required for their professional guidance. For example, if the committee is dealing with an issue of competency regarding a special needs teacher, the board may request the services of an expert in this field to assist with the inquiry as a decision-maker.

If required, the Registrar may also request a teacher to submit to an examination by a medical practitioner selected by the teacher from a panel of up to 10 experts.

Panels for all hearings will continue to consist of appropriate representation from the profession and the community.

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Consistency & compliance

The board currently performs its functions with the welfare and best interests of children as a primary consideration and changes to the Act have strengthened this resolution. Going forward, in relation to the operation, administration and enforcement of the Act the board holds the welfare and best interests of children as the first and paramount consideration.

A new amendment will now allow the Registrar, in certain circumstances, to suspend the registration of a teacher who poses an unacceptable risk to children.  Guidance on how this new power can be exercised will be set out in a Guideline to be shared with the sector.

This new measure consolidates previous changes to teacher registration adopted in 2019, being a power to suspend teacher registration absent a Working with Children Check and cancellation of teacher registration where a teacher is found to be a prohibited person under the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act, 2016.

This further consolidation of child safety measures ensures consistency and compliance with both the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (RCIRCSA) and the Child Safety (Prohibited Persons) Act 2016.

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Special authorities

In exceptional circumstances, the board has the discretion to grant a Special Authority for an Unregistered Person to Teach (SAT) to an applicant who is not a registered teacher. For example, a school or prescribed service may be unable to employ a registered teacher due to their geographical location or there may be a shortage of registered teachers in a subject area.

Changes to the Act mean SAT holders are now subject to the same rigorous requirements as registered teachers and they are required to inform the Registrar in writing within 28 days if they change their address, and to inform the Registrar in writing within 14 days when a Working with Children Check is conducted in relation to them.

SAT holders are now also included in information sharing arrangements between the board and relevant agencies concerning offences that may have been committed which raise serious concerns about a person’s fitness to be around children and young people.

This consistency of requirements between SAT holders and registered teachers will strengthen the board’s ability to ensure that only fit and proper persons are employed at education sites.

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Registered teachers notification requirements

All registered teachers in South Australia have legal obligations to notify the board of certain changes in their situation. The board works with teachers, employing authorities and other bodies to protect children and ensure only fit and proper person remain in the profession. To assist this, teachers and employers are required to notify the board of certain changes and events. Under changes to the Act, clarity around an additional requirement that a registered teacher must notify the board, within 14 days, if they are dismissed or resign from employment as a practising teacher in response to allegations of incompetence.

All notification obligations are detailed under Section 24 of the Act.

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Code of Conduct

Teachers are in a unique position of trust and as such, the standard of behaviour expected of them is very high. The board encourages all registered teachers to abide by our Code of Ethics, a framework of appropriate values and behaviours expected of teaching professionals.

Under a new section of the Act, 31B(1): Codes of conduct and professional standards, the board is now responsible for developing and maintaining a Code of Conduct for registered teachers and persons granted a special authority to teach. This framework of principles will provide guidance as to the professional and personal conduct and professional competence expected of teachers and all special authority holders.  

The proposed Code will be informed by extensive consultation with a range of stakeholders both within South Australia and the wider Australian education sector. It will strive to complement employer Codes of Conduct and provide a consistency of understanding across South Australian teaching sectors.  This consultation will commence in the latter part of 2021 after amending provisions to the Act commence.

During this extensive consultation, the board will also seek views as to whether to adopt Protective Practices for Staff in their Interactions with Children and Young People Guideline as an approved standard to assist teacher’s understanding of professional boundary guidelines when interacting with children and young people.

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Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers (HALT)

High-quality teaching and educational leadership has been proven to have the biggest effect on raising student achievement.

HALT certification recognises and promotes quality teaching and teachers who undertake this certification are collaborative learning professionals at the higher career-stages of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST).

To publicly recognise these teachers and promote HALT certification, the Register of Teachers will be annotated to reflect a teacher’s HALT status for the period of their certification. Certificates of teacher registration will also include HALT status.

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