Legal: Teacher registration - renew it or regret it

There are few certainties in this life. “Civilians” can rely on death and taxes. Registered teachers in Queensland, however, can rely on a third - every year they must pay an annual fee for teacher registration with the Queensland College of Teachers.

In very basic terms, registration means being eligible to teach in a Queensland school and being accepted by colleagues and the public as a member of the teaching profession. It also means paying an annual fee, which in 2017 is $83.75.

Teachers with full registration need to renew their registration every five years, in addition to paying the annual fee.

Now, as the college giveth, the college can taketh away, and many teachers during their careers will find themselves on suspension, under investigation or facing disciplinary charges due to matters as serious as allegations of indecent dealing and fraud, or as trivial as pinching stationery or an unkind word in the staff room.

While the teacher is under suspension by the department, it is possible for the college to suspend their registration under either section 48 (if charged with a serious offence) or section 49 (poses unacceptable risk of harm to children) of the Education (Queensland College of Teachers Act) 2005.

When suspended by the college, your registration is inactive. That means you are not cleared to teach in a Queensland school. The temptation to let your teacher registration lapse, by not paying the fee while on suspension, is perfectly understandable, but it is a very bad idea. Not paying a renewal fee means you are automatically removed from the teaching register.

If you intend to teach again, failure to renew your registration while on suspension means you are sacrificing an important advantage in the disciplinary process, and it will prolong your efforts to get back into the classroom. It could potentially mean you never return to teaching at all.

We recently assisted a teacher who had been suspended on pay for various low level infringements of the code of conduct. After a period of almost a year, the department finalised its investigation, which resulted in a transfer and a pay point reduction. The teacher had been due to return to work, but then the department realised he was not registered.

It emerged that while he had been under suspension, the teacher had failed to renew his registration. His renewal forms had been sent to him at his former school and he had not received them. By the time he realised he was unregistered, it was the first week of April and the college would not permit him to renew.  He had to make a new application for registration.  Before the new application was processed, the college had given its own notice of an intention to investigate the original allegations and a decision could not be made on the application for registration until after that registration had been completed.

The teacher now found himself unable to return to work, despite the fact that the department had a position waiting for him. He was not suspended from the department, he was simply not registered to work as a teacher in Queensland. He’s now waiting for the college to complete its investigation and he is not receiving any pay, all because he failed to fill out the form and pay the fee to renew his registration.

The clear message here is renew it or regret it. Spending $83.75 for a registration you can’t use may seem like a waste of money, but when compared to the possibility of not being paid for up to a year and beyond, it fades into insignificance.

Are you registered?

  • Make sure you have paid your 2017 annual fee. 
  • If you are late (don’t be late!) you are allowed a short grace period to renew (and pay a late fee) or you have to make an entirely new application.
  • Teachers with full registration need to renew their registration every five years. 
  • To find out when to pay your annual fee and renew your registration, perform a register search of the QCT website

Edmund Burke and Rachel Drew                                                                                     Holding Redlich Lawyers

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 1, 10 February 2017, p27