There’s a shortage of teachers in New Zealand, mostly in secondary schools, but in Auckland and rural areas in particular, primary school teaching positions are also becoming hard to fill.
The reasons are many says University of Waikato’s Associate Dean Teacher Education Bev Cooper. “It’s mostly in the STEM subjects, but also English where positions are hardest to fill. The Ministry predicted growth but school rolls are increasing faster than predicted. Many teachers are coming up to retirement age, and then you’ve got teachers moving out of Auckland because they can’t afford to buy a house there.”
Ms Cooper says the many opportunities for new teachers, particularly if they are open to moving to Auckland and smaller towns and cities once they graduate. “And often in the smaller centres there are more opportunities for advancement.
Ms Cooper says Waikato is already selecting student teachers for 2018 and offers a variety of pathways for people who are keen to be teachers.
There are three-year pathways for primary and early childhood for those students who don't have degrees.
“And we’re the only university in New Zealand that offers a conjoint degree in both secondary and primary, so students can do a science, arts, social science or sport health and human performance degree and combine that with a Bachelor of Teaching. It takes four years and these students when they graduate have a sound knowledge not just in their chosen majors, but they also go into the classroom with an excellent foundation in teaching and learning theories.”
Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education also offers graduate teaching diplomas in Hamilton, Tauranga and online for all sectors. Students usually complete this qualification after finishing a bachelors or higher degree.
“Then we have a one-year Masters of Teaching and Learning, an exemplary programme that is Ministry-funded,” says Ms Cooper. “It’s intensive but gives students excellent skills. In fact, some of our graduates are leading professional development programmes for teachers in schools.”
Katarena Bisset is a Masters graduate now teaching in an Auckland secondary school.
“Reflecting on my Master of Teaching and Learning year... boy, that was hard. But man oh man, it made me so prepared to start my teaching career. I couldn’t have coped with the work load of a first-year teacher, nor all the learning of school processes and policies if our course had been any different.”
Staff at Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education have strong relationships with local schools and from day one in a Bachelor of Teaching degree, Waikato students spend one day a week co-teaching in the classroom. “Our revised BTchg to be delivered in 2018 is cutting edge,” says Ms Cooper.
“We’ve developed a generic first year programme that has key ideas around teaching and learning across the sector -- early childhood, primary and secondary. That means our students can choose their preferred area of teaching once they’ve had a taste of what teaching is all about. And we’ve worked hard to develop and refine our programmes so that are more aligned with how schools operate.”
Ms Cooper says graduate teachers need to be confident and adaptable, able to work in modern co-operative learning spaces and traditional classrooms.
“Our relationships with schools are much more about partnerships these days, more of a collaboration to recognise that schools and the university can contribute different knowledge to prepare teachers effectively.”
Deputy Principal at Hamilton Boys’ High School Stuart Hakeney agrees.
He says Waikato teachers possess excellent practical skills and are ready for the challenges that come with a career in education. “The focus on inquiry learning, evidence-based practice and the skills required to cater for priority learners is crucial, so it's fantastic to see that Waikato focussing on these areas in all programmes.
“We’ve developed an excellent relationship with the Faculty of Education and we trust them to deliver top-class educational programmes, which in turn produce top-class teachers.”
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