New Zealand's largest education union has slammed a Massey University proposal to drop two teacher training courses.
The university has been consulting staff on the possibility of dropping its three-year Bachelor of Education Early Years degree and four-year Bachelor of Education Primary. This would leave only the one-year post-graduate diploma for students wanting to study education at Massey.
But spokespeople for the New Zealand Educational Institute said the proposals could be damaging to teacher education in New Zealand.
Jennifer Langridge, a graduate diploma student at Massey and member of NZEI Young Members Network, said "although post-graduate study can produce quality teachers, post-graduate students often agree that the pressure-cooker situation of being pushed through training and out into the real world often leads them to be burnt out and feel under-prepared in some areas of the classroom".
Massey University College of Education Students' Association co-president Emma McKay said: "Students at the College of Education believe that post-graduate teacher education should not be the sole pathway to a teaching career.
"Students are concerned that all teachers being trained in one year will be detrimental to the future of quality education in New Zealand primary school classrooms."
Massey University spokesman James Gardiner said the proposed changes, outlined in a document entitled College of Education Academic Reform, were part of an overall Massey University academic reform project.
"The discussion paper outlines what we believe is an exciting opportunity to position Massey University's teacher education as an international leader.
"It also proposes new pathways into postgraduate education that will lead to more highly qualified teachers who are effective professionals and professional leaders throughout their lives."
Mr Gardiner said international evidence suggested the best outcomes would be achieved by providing teacher education to those who already had undergraduate degrees.
"What is proposed is by no means a radical change – we have numerous excellent teachers in the profession now who have completed one-year graduate diplomas ... having first completed undergraduate degrees. Principals attest to the calibre of these teachers and it is surprising that the NZEI should suggest otherwise."
NZEI President Ian Leckie said the proposals were worrying and schools would be left to pick up the pieces.
"While there are some very good teachers who have completed graduate-only programmes, it should not be the preferred or only option available to those students wanting to go into teaching.
"The undergraduate degree programmes give students a comprehensive and practically based course which is focused for three or four years on building a solid teaching foundation."
Mr Gardiner said the proposal was "just that" and no decisions had been made. The document had been distributed throughout the University's College of Education and the education sector, including to 500 schools.
"Any changes would be phased in. We will be accepting first-year students into the four-year degree programme next year but would stop that from 2013 if this goes ahead."
Students already enrolled in a three of four-year degree would not have their studies affected.
- © Fairfax NZ News