The Association began in 1967 at a meeting held at Dilworth School, Auckland. Those attending saw a need for a professional body representing the interest of teachers in independent schools. At first the organisation catered for secondary school teachers and as such was called the Independent Secondary Schools Assistant Teachers Association (ISSATA). It was not long before the secondary criterion was dropped and primary teachers became involved as well (ISATA). A further name change took place in 1989 when the word Assistant was dropped from the title and the Association assumed the name (ISTANZ). In 2007 another name change was necessary in order to include the many support staff members of NZ independent schools thus bringing about today’s name of Independent Schools Education Association (ISEA).
Under the Kirk Labour Government of the early ’70’s, state aid to private schools was under review and cut back. This meant that many schools who ran to a tight budget, particularly the Catholic schools, found it difficult to continue. The Private Schools Conditional Integration Act was introduced to offer integration into the state system. There was seen a need to get involved with the politics of education. This gave the Association the impetus to become a national body, which was achieved at a meeting at Scots College in 1974. Ken Bray (St Kentigern College) became the National President and Neil Lambie (Scots College), the National Secretary.
From the small beginnings the Association grew from strength to strength having at its height in the late ’80’s a membership of over 500. A very active National Executive ensured the Association involvement in the political issues of the time. In the May holidays the Annual Conference was well attended by teachers from all over the country. Some very interesting issues were discussed and the professional and social interaction saw to their success. For quite a number of year the Annual Conference was held in conjunction with the prep school and secondary schools heads associations AHIPS and AHISS later to combine to form the present AHIS), thus ensuring a useful link between teachers and heads.
The Association has been involved in a variety of political issues over the years. On your behalf they have met with Ministers of Education, Opposition Spokesperson for Education, appeared before several Select Committees and submitted countless written submissions. We would like to think we have made a difference.
For nearly twenty years the Association ran on a regional basis and a national basis, but as more independent schools integrated and pressures on teachers increased fewer and fewer people were prepared to add yet more meetings to their list
The Association is in the throes of a significant revival as union status encourages teachers to join to benefit from the collective bargaining aspects. It is run by a National Executive with representatives from schools throughout the country with representation by primary and secondary teachers. The Executive meet three or four times a year. The current policy is to invite schools to send an observer to the executive meetings.