27 May 2024

Labour warns consistency across teacher training programmes needed

8:33 am on 27 May 2024
Labour's Jan Tinetti arrives at Wellington Airport on 16 October 2023 following the election at the weekend.

Labour education spokesperson Jan Tinetti says consistency is needed amongst the country's 80 teacher training programmes Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Labour says it backs the government's latest investment in teacher training in principle but warns that an overview of what is happening in each of the country's 80 teaching training programmes is needed.

In a pre-Budget announcement on Sunday, Education Minister Erica Stanford announced nearly $53 million in new education funding.

Twelve hundred teacher trainees will learn on the job and be paid a $20,000 stipend after calls to give trainees more time in the classroom.

Labour's education spokesperson Jan Tinetti said Labour piloted in-class training for teachers but it was necessary to be cautious.

"We need to look at the overall programmes of what we're training with teachers, when we put something in and we don't take heed of what else is happening at the time - for example putting the stipend in alongside this [in-classroom training] - would encourage people to go into that rather than going to university courses."

If that happened it may not increase the number of teachers being recruited, she said.

Stanford told Morning Report that the way that it had been working during the pilot scheme was that schools that would often find people themselves in their community and ask them to return to teaching.

In-class training had often been used by people who were mid-career which meant they were older, more mature and more able to deal with children and parents, she said.

"From what we've seen so far it has absolutely been a case of increasing the pool.

"It will also allow schools to go and tap graduates on the shoulder and say 'hey look you've just finished a maths degree, you've just finished a science degree, you know we will pay you to come and study to be a primary school maths teacher' - which as you know we desperately need."

Tinetti said there were more than 80 pathways to become a teacher in New Zealand and it was essential to ensure some consistency across all of them.

"We know that recent evaluations are showing that there is the issue around consistency, putting something in without ensuring we've got that overall consistency, that we've got a knowledge of what's happening in every single programme, it worries me that we're still not addressing that particular fact."

The Teaching Council oversees teacher training but Tinetti said she was not sure if that was enough.

"Do we need to have more of a consistent view of what is happening in each of the programmes?"

Teacher training was now undertaken by universities, private training providers and some schools were setting up their own training courses, she said.

"When we see it devolve like that we lose that consistent approach. That's where we need to make certain that there is a consistent approach. Whether it's a training college or it's through universities we need to make certain that we've got a far greater oversight of what is happening in those training programmes."

Stanford said there needed to be a balance between having "lots of different pathways into teaching to suit different people's needs" whilst continuing to control the quality of the training programmes.

Tinetti said in-class training encourages a different demographic to consider teaching.

It may be people who had worked in other professions but were looking for a career change, she said.

"That encourages them to come in because they've already done a lot of work around the theory side, they've already been out working in practical professions and they're not necessarily wanting to go back to learning that theory once again because they've already been there."

In terms of the $20,000 stipend, Tinetti said it was important to look at how to encourage people undertaking training in areas such as education, but also medicine, to complete their training and then stay in the profession.

"If you're asking for a career change $20,000 is absolutely minimal. I know that's a start but that is something that both sides of government need to be looking at and need to be coming together on around a strategy."

Teaching Council chief executive Lesley Hoskin said it was necessary to look at what was needed in the education system to deliver the desired results.

"My interest is in how to we ensure that every teacher is appropriately supported and trained throughout their teacher education and into their early years of teaching."

Govt's move to train more teachers 'a start' - PPTA

The secondary school teachers union says it welcomes the government's move to train more teachers.

PPTA president Chris Abercrombie told Morning Report in-class training for teachers had been trialled in Auckland and Hamilton and there had been positive feedback.

"We know from the recent ERO report time in class is really beneficial to student teachers."

Abercrombie said he hoped that the government could ensure that the teaching students be widely spread across New Zealand "so every school could have the opportunity to be involved in this programme, it just can't be the main centres".

Stanford said the initial funding for the pilot scheme was only available in some higher decile schools in Auckland and Waikato because they had set the programme up.

But she wanted to make it more equitable once it was rolled out.

The Ministry of Education would talk to interested schools, she said.

"The intention will be for the ministry to talk to them and say 'right we want this to be equitable, we want this to be available for example in rural schools, in primary schools in intermediates right throughout the country."

Abercrombie said would be necessary to ensure that schools had good mentoring programmes in place for these trainee teachers.

The government's move to train more teachers in schools was a step in the right direction but it should not be a finishing point as more teachers would still be needed, he said.

Pilot scheme shows programme's success - principal

A group of high decile Auckland secondary schools will be among those hosting a classroom-based teacher training programme which aims to attract people to the industry who might not have otherwise considered it.

David Ferguson is the principal of Westlake Boys High and chair of the Teachers Institute, a group of schools which will host these trainees from next year.

He said Westlake Boys' High was one of the schools involved in the pilot scheme and the programme had trained 200 teachers by the end of this year in partnership with Waikato University.

"It's been a real success."

Currently, there are 37 schools from a range of deciles involved in the programme, he said.

Most of those taking part in the programme were changing their career, he said.

"So I don't think this is instead of going to university - it's as well as."

He said that 99 percent of those who had trained so far had got a job at the school that they trained in.

"The course that we're developing next year will be rigourous, there will be a lot of theory but we're trying to make it as contemporary and relevant as possible."

Ferguson did not think there would be any shortage of applicants for the programme.

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