Source: Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA)
PPTA News is profiling members standing as candidates in the 2020 election. We put four questions to Nelson teacher Chris Baillie who is standing for the ACT Party.
My name is Chris Baillie and I am proud to be standing as a candidate for the ACT Party in Nelson.
After attending Victoria University I went to Christchurch Teachers College in 1985, specializing in music and English. I have taught in Christchurch, Wellington and Nelson. For the last 10 years I have worked with special needs students as SENCO and HOLA/teacher. I was a police officer for 14 years and currently own a business in the hospitality industry employing 30 staff. I was drawn to ACT a few years ago not because I was a fan of Dancing with the Stars but because every time I saw David Seymour interviewed he just seemed to make sense. He is the only MP who actually stands up for his values and principles, despite the vitriol he receives from certain groups. I like that in a person.
What are your views on the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand reform and fees?
There is a lot of negative feeling amongst teachers regarding the teaching council. The railroading through of the yearly registration, against some very valid arguments and ignoring the consultation process recommendations, shows a certain arrogance that doesn’t engender good relationships with teachers. I was impressed with the teaching council’s recent comments regarding the physical restraint policy changes which showed common sense and a good understanding of the difficulties teachers face every day in the classroom. There must be mutual respect between teachers and the organisation that represents them.
Has your involvement with the union movement encouraged you to enter politics?
I have been a member of the PPTA since starting teaching in Christchurch in 1986 and have enjoyed the benefits that go with union membership. However, owning a business has changed the way I view employer/employee relationships. While I believe the union movement has done some great work in improving work conditions and salaries, there needs to be a balance between rights and responsibilities for the betterment of all. Business owners throughout New Zealand are very frustrated with the current rules and regulations that make it very difficult for them to get ahead and despite popular belief, if a business is doing well, the workers do well. I have long thought that the PPTA should stay away from political agendas and concentrate on representing teachers. Commenting on other countries’ policies serves no purpose and is well outside their mandate.
What are your thoughts on charter schools?
I was a Police Youth Aid Officer for a number of years and I have seen the success of Partnership Schools. Many young people don’t fit the mould and I believe there is a place for them. Often those students we spend many resources on in mainstream schools would be far better off at a specialized school that promotes their interests and abilities. I do believe the ideology and political agenda of many teachers ignores the known successful results that Partnership Schools produce. Partnership Schools will benefit those students who too often fall through the cracks. We should always remember that we are there for the students.
What did you learn from teaching in lockdown?
I think lockdown showed us that we need to be able to adapt and cater to all students’ needs and that technology is a fantastic aid, but also that there is nothing like face to face teaching. We are constantly being told that students won’t learn until they have a positive relationship with the teacher. This is absolutely correct and every teacher has their own way of building this relationship. It is difficult to do this via Teams or Zoom. Family situations play a big part with student engagement both with technology and in general schooling. Improving social disparity and getting people working is the key and is a huge focus for ACT.