Fifty years of teaching teachers
This year has been a major milestone for the University of Waikato Faculty of Education, formerly Hamilton Teachers’ College.
In November the faculty celebrates 50 years of delivering excellence in teacher education with a round of symposia, the hosting of an APEC meeting, a stakeholder dinner, a staff dinner and a huge reunion for former and current staff and students.
Current Dean Professor Alister Jones said it was important to remind the wider community just how much the Faculty of Education delivered regionally, nationally and internationally.
The Faculty has had many innovative firsts over the years – the formal merger of the Teachers’ College and the University, the offering of early childhood qualifications and distance education programmes, new technology graduate qualifications and a range of innovative initiatives in Maori medium teacher education, including bilingual classes and schools, kura kaupapa Maori and wharekura.
But without teacher education the university itself might never have come into existence.
It was the serious shortage of teachers in the 1950s that prompted the government to consider plans for a teachers’ college in the Waikato region.
And where there was a teachers’ college, there needed to be a university to give students access to undergraduate courses.
Initially that task fell to Auckland University which agreed, albeit with some reluctance, to offer two subjects – English and history – in the Waikato outpost.
In February 1960 Hamilton Teachers’ College opened its doors in its temporary home in what would become Melville High School.
Right up to the last moment, the new principal John Allan and his 12 staff were sweeping sawdust and wood shavings off the floor before the first intake of students arrived.
A month later the Branch University moved in upstairs from the Teachers’ College.
Mr Allan was tasked with developing links with the new university – something that had never previously been achieved in New Zealand.
Thrown together by circumstance, the Teachers’ College and fledgling university shared facilities including a staffroom and also combined forces in planning a new joint campus on farmland at Hillcrest.
It was the start of what was to prove a most fruitful relationship.
In 1964 the two institutions moved to their new home. The Hamilton Teachers’ College buildings dominated the new campus; Waikato University, now an institution in its own right with six lecturers, was housed in a smaller building, now A Block.
These days, the Faculty of Education is the biggest faculty in the University of Waikato and is rated the top teacher education provider in New Zealand. For information on enrolling for teacher education, phone 0800 WAIKATO or visit www.waikato.ac.nz
First intake: The first intake of the Hamilton Teachers’ College, now the University of Waikato’s Faculty of Education.