College vigilant in creating better access to licensure for qualified internationally educated teachers

The College is changing its registration practices to topple barriers internationally educated teachers face en route to resuming their careers in Ontario.

by Brian McGowan

If you’re an out-of-country teacher applying for full certification in Ontario, having to amass 194 days of teaching experience can seem an insurmountable barrier – especially if you’re piecing together supply teaching assignments to do it.
At best, the requirement is difficult. Viewed another way it may be seen as discriminatory, even if unintentional.

That’s what internationally educated teachers (IETs) said when we consulted them during a comprehensive review of our registration practices last year.

Well, that’s about to change. In September, Council approved a proposal to remove the 194-day requirement from the Teachers’ Qualifications Regulation.

As well, Council approved streamlining our certificates. Soon, we will grant two certificates only: one transitional, for members who are completing multi-session Bachelor of Education degrees, and one to signify full certification. Both will entitle the bearer to apply immediately for teaching positions, whether or not they have to meet further terms, conditions and limitations.

Finding first-time work as a teacher these days is hard enough without barriers to registration. There’s a surplus of qualified English-language people. The market is competitive. Imagine the additional complications if you’re new to the system, lacking contacts and unfamiliar with the Ontario curriculum.

But once you’ve been accepted as a member of the Ontario College of Teachers, you’ve met the standard for all certified Ontario teachers.

Being fair-minded is not a professional courtesy. It’s a moral, social and economic imperative.

The College was among the first of Ontario’s regulatory bodies to review its registration practices and processes and it is proud to be among the first to undergo a full audit by the Office of the Fairness Commissioner this winter.

Improving our registration practices is a strategic thrust for the College. It began with a thorough examination of our practices, which culminated in the report I presented to Council this past March. The report included a series of recommendations, some with regulatory implications and some without. All reflected observations drawn from consultations with IETs, education stakeholders, College members and representatives of community organizations who help internationally educated professionals continue their careers in Ontario. Recommendations of a non-regulatory nature focused on changes to our administration practices. Recommendations requiring regulatory change were presented to Council for approval. We’re working with Ministry of Education staff now to review the language for the new regulation.

Those consulted said we were doing the right things but that there was more we could be doing. We’ve taken that advice to heart. In addition to changing certificates and the Teachers’ Qualifications Regulation, we have updated and increased the information we provide to out-of-country applicants on our web site, in our publications, in presentations and in personal interactions and we’ve reduced the fees for multiple documents that IETs are asked to compile and provide. Soon we will also meet with language-proficiency test providers to make sure their practices are fair.

“Finding first-time work as a teacher these days is hard enough without barriers to registration.”

In October, the Office of the Fairness Commissioner invited the College to discuss with other regulators the steps we’ve taken to review and improve our registration practices. We’re always happy to share what we’ve learned. But it’s premature and insincere to suggest we’ve completed our work.

Until all applicants – those educated here or elsewhere – have access to registration practices that are truly transparent, impartial and objective, the College will work hard to improve.

It’s only fair.

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