8 Dec 2017

New teachers unprepared for job, ERO warns

8:17 am on 8 December 2017

The Education Review Office is calling for an overhaul of initial teacher education because too many new teachers are unprepared for their job.

Classroom, school

Photo: 123RF

In a new report, the office said it found widespread concern among school principals, early childhood centre managers and new-graduate teachers themselves about the selection and education of trainee teachers.

Many new-graduate teachers (NGTs) were critical of the training they had received and needed to substantially develop their ability to teach, the report said.

"Despite substantial government investment of more than $80 million in (initial teacher education) in 2016, ERO has found a lack of confidence in the selection, professional education and capabilities of many NGTs as they enter the profession.

"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," it said.

The report said there were "significant questions" about the extent to which student teachers and newly graduated teachers were supported to develop the skills and strategies they needed to be good teachers.

"ERO has found that currently many NGTs feel they have, and are perceived as having, limitations in their confidence and preparation as they begin teaching. Given the government's considerable investment in ITE this is not a satisfactory situation."

The evaluation was based on interviews with 588 new-graduate teachers and the leaders of their schools and early childhood centres in 2016.

Some trainees were poorly prepared to tailor their teaching in light of their pupils' cultural backgrounds and test results and they needed more training on how to manage children's behaviour, it said.

'The reality was a shock for some'

The review office recommended the Education Council review initial teacher education, which could include strengthening entry requirements, and lifting the standards for graduating teachers to the level need to teach with support.

It also said the council should review the processes that institutions used for assessing their graduates to provide more confidence that all graduating teachers met the standards for teaching.

Some teachers did not have a good grounding in how to teach children from diverse cultures, the report said.

"Leaders told ERO that while some NGTs were culturally competent and had a good understanding of the factors that influence learning, others were naïve to the complexity of these influences. They said reality was a shock for some NGTs, and they could be better prepared for diverse contexts."

Most new-graduate school teachers were confident, but the quality of their preparation varied, and sometimes the theory they had been taught did not match the reality of the classroom, the report said.

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