New teach­ers ‘ill-equipped for job’

The Dominion Post - - Politics - JO MOIR

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.

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