Professionally SpeakingThe Magazine of the Ontario College of Teachers
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Governing Ourselves


For regulatory bodies like ours, it's all about trust, accountability and transparency

A conference on the Future of Professional Regulation identified common themes for professions that – like ours – have the responsibility for certifying and regulating themselves.

by Brian McGowan

I had the opportunity to meet with members from a wide range of professions at a conference here in Toronto this April called the Future of Professional Regulation in Canada.

It was remarkable how, among this gathering of leaders from engineering, nursing, teaching, social work, pharmacy and many other professions, two themes predominated.

The first was that all professional bodies are under increasing pressure from the public to prove that we are worthy of their trust, and that accountability and transparency are key measures in winning and keeping that trust.

While we met, controversy swirled around accountability and transparency in Ontario's medical profession and hospitals. Now the provincial government has stepped in to require that the public receive much more information about medical outcomes than ever before.

The second theme was the need for all regulators to provide for the integration of internationally licensed individuals into our professions, an issue that is very relevant to the College.

One of the really satisfying facets of my new responsibilities as Registrar has been the opportunity to identify issues and develop courses of action that will benefit our members and our profession.

Among those issues is how we accept and process applications for membership, and the help we offer those who are not certified on their first try.

As the number of applicants with international teacher credentials and teaching experience increased steadily over the years, the College added to its knowledge of international education systems and certifying practices to aid our evaluation of credentials earned outside Canada.

We share information about our registration procedures with organizations and institutions here and abroad who work with immigrating professionals. We offer assistance to applicants at every stage of the application process and, perhaps most importantly, we listen to feedback and look at how we can improve our services.

Applicants and newly certified members clearly appreciate our commit-ment to transparency.

“IETs are an important resource for Ontario.”

We believe our registration practices are fair and impartial. But I'm determined that we take nothing for granted. The College has recently launched a review of how we operate so that our procedures, information and guidelines are as clear and transparent as possible.

This summer we will introduce another initiative in response to feedback from our annual Transition to Teaching study of new members of the College.

Internationally educated teachers newly certified in Ontario told us in this survey that securing a full-time job presents more of a challenge for them than it does for their Ontario-educated counterparts.

Teachers educated overseas don't have the contacts and system know-ledge that Ontario BEd graduates do, and our research shows this places them at a disadvantage when they look for work.

The College will bridge that gap by holding information sessions in a number of locations for more than 500 internationally educated teachers certified in Ontario during the past year. As well as sharing information about their recently issued Interim Certificates of Qualification and how the province's education system works, we'll make sure they know how Teach in Ontario can help them.

Internationally educated teachers have a very valuable resource in Teach in Ontario, a project sponsored by the College, the Ontario Teachers' Federation and immigrant settlement groups. It offers a wide range of services to internationally educated teachers to help them become certified in Ontario and, once certified, to help them find a job.

Internationally educated teachers are an important resource for Ontario. They bring new ideas, a fresh perspective, often years of teaching experience and the cultural and language diversity that characterizes a significant part of our student population.

Many of them can offer skills and experience teaching in areas where there are ongoing shortages such as French as a Second Language and the sciences. By welcoming what they have to offer, we enrich both our profession and our communities.