New teachers ‘ill-equipped for job’
First-time teachers in classrooms around the country may not be up to the job, according to a new report.
School leaders hiring new staff have told the Education Review Office (ERO) that they relied on graduates’ personal qualities over their CV contents because of concerns about whether teacher training courses were preparing them for the workforce.
The new report revealed a ‘‘widespread’’ lack of confidence in new graduates’ capabilities, professional education and selection when being considered for a teaching role.
In the period from 2000 to 2015, there had been ‘‘a decline in New Zealand’s performance ... in the critical areas of reading, mathematics and science’’, ERO said.
Work was already underway to ‘‘lift and strengthen’’ initial teacher education (ITE) programmes and the Education Council was considering changes to make sure all future teachers were prepared for the classroom.
But despite ‘‘substantial government investment’’ of more than $80 million into ITEs in 2016, ERO said school leaders were reporting graduate teachers as being illequipped for the job.
‘‘Given the Government’s considerable investment in ITE, this is not a satisfactory situation.
‘‘These concerns – while not universal – are widespread, and are compounded by systemic issues such as variation in ITE programmes and components of theory and practice, and lack of clarity about the expectations and relative responsibilities of ITE providers and associate teachers in supporting student teachers,’’ the report said.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the report showed the ‘‘devolution and deregulation of initial teacher education over a long period of time hasn’t worked really’’.
‘‘As a result, we’ve got quite a lot of work to do to lift our game in that area.’’
Hipkins said the report highlighted
"Devolution and deregulation of initial teacher education over a long period of time hasn’t worked really well."
Education Minister Chris Hipkins
what principals had been saying for a long time – that teaching programmes did not have enough of a ‘‘practical component to them’’.
National’s education spokesperson, Nikki Kaye, agreed that more practical opportunities were needed for teachers in training.
She hoped the Government took the recommendations seriously but said it was ‘‘not just about investment given the $80m spent by the previous Government’’.
‘‘The work the Education Council is doing to lift the quality of teaching is important to consider alongside this report.’’
ERO chief executive Nicholas Pole said teachers needed more support to take on the ‘‘increasing complexities of modern teaching’’.
‘‘As more and more demands are placed on teachers, it is timely to take a look at the way we are training them and how we support them into the profession.
‘‘As a country we need to be confident in our teachers. It is a challenging profession that needs good foundations,’’ he said.
The report also raised concerns about the number of new teachers being employed on fixed-term contracts, rather than in fulltime positions.
Fixed term contracts reduced graduate teachers’ ‘‘confidence that they would be able to complete their full certification requirements with the support and guidance they need’’.
The report recommended providing more support for teachers by improving the quality of teaching, more focused guidance and mentoring from leaders, as well as improving the status given to the teaching profession.