Teacher education programme Teach First NZ is set to be expanded in a move to help strengthen and grow the teacher workforce, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced yesterday.
Teach First NZ is a field-based Initial Teacher Education programme developed by the University of Auckland and the Teach First NZ Trust which recruits high-calibre graduates and places them in low-decile secondary schools for an initial two-year commitment.
The programme has been extended for a further three years to train 40 new secondary school teachers and expanded by another ten places focused on science, technology and maths in 2017.
“We’re committed to recruiting the best and brightest into teaching, particularly in high-demand subjects like science, technology and maths. The extra places and the expansion to allow Teach First NZ to cover technology graduates will help attract more new teachers for these subjects, says Parata.
“This programme selects graduates at the top of their game, just the type of teachers we want in schools. It also has a high completion and retention rate, so we’re backing it to recruit more quality graduates.”
Teach First NZ chief executive Shaun Sutton is pleased with the Ministry’s decision.
“We think the expansion of the programme will enable more low-decile schools to access highly-qualified graduates to become outstanding teachers and leaders, raising achievement in the classroom and making an positive impact on reducing educational inequities.”
The Teach First NZ programme came under scrutiny earlier this year following an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ruling that Teach First NZ participants were being illegally appointed to teaching positions. As a result Teach First NZ, the University of Auckland, the PPTA and the Ministry of Education reached agreement that Teach First NZ participants will apply for advertised jobs in schools, alongside other applicants. However, new legislation could create a new official “trainee teacher” category of teacher, a development that has some concerned that it will have an adverse effect on the quality of teaching.
Despite this, the Ministry of Education’s latest evaluation report into the Teach First NZ programme has been positive. It found that by their second year in the programme, most Teach First NZ trainees are considered by their mentors to be very effective in helping raise student achievement. The report, commissioned by the Ministry from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research, is the third of four evaluation reports into the programme.
To read Education Review’s recent interview with Shaun Sutton, click here.