Culture bonus for Australian teacher

June 2010


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KATE RUSSELL interviewed Australian teacher Amanda Pethybridge about working on this side of the ditch

Finding work in New Zealand proved to be easy for Australian teacher Amanda Pethybridge.

Arriving in December 2007 she was offered a part-time position at the early childhood education centre in south Wellington where she still works with children under the age of two.

After a few weeks the centre offered a full-time position and supported her until her qualifications were approved for New Zealand work.

Raised and educated in Sydney, Pethybridge holds two early childhood qualifications. She has completed a diploma of children’s services from TAFE College in Sydney and a bachelor of education by correspondence through Charles Sturt University.

After teaching for six years, Amanda and her husband decided to make the move across the ditch. “My husband moved here for work,” says Amanda, “and I had heard that New Zealand was highly respected in the area of early childhood education.”

Amanda was still finishing her correspondence degree when she moved. Unfortunately, her diploma of children’s services didn’t equate to enough points for her to be classed as a fully trained teacher in New Zealand, but once she had completed her degree it was relatively easy to get her qualification verified.

“The hardest thing was all the paperwork, which was time consuming,” Pethybridge says. Once she had completed her degree the New Zealand Qualifications Authority put her application through fairly quickly.

Pethybridge has adapted to New Zealand’s style of early childhood education, and says the only major adjustment has been learning the Māori cultural inclusion at her centre.

“I went to several courses and Te Whāriki training days to educate myself in the curriculum and the culture,” she says.

One of the biggest challenges has been learning the Maori language, but she says this has been rewarding. “New Zealand should be very proud of the way the Māori culture is integrated and woven into the education system.”

Pethybridge says there are many similarities in the early childhood systems in the two countries. “A lot of the everyday practices and interest-based learning where children choose and direct their play are quite similar.”

As much as Amanda loves teaching in New Zealand, she says she will return to teach in Australia.

“Our families all live in Australia so most probably we will work back there one day. But I love being a part of early childhood here in New Zealand.”

Pethybridge says she has grown as a teacher living and working in New Zealand. “I have had to believe my abilities, as well as my passion, were enough for me as I didn’t have my qualifications to fall back on at first,” she says.

“In learning a new curriculum and culture I have developed my knowledge and skills. It’s definitely made me a stronger and better teacher.”