Teacher training in demand

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2013

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A teacher training scheme fast-tracking university graduates into classrooms has more demand for participants than it can fill.

Teach First NZ is trawling universities to find graduates for the second year of its field-based programme that places them for two years in secondary schools serving lower decile communities in Auckland or Northland.

Participants complete an eight-week course before becoming a reduced-hours teacher while completing a postgraduate diploma in teaching from Auckland University.

The programme drew some initial criticism, with one principal claiming it was yet another experiment on vulnerable youth.

But Teach First chief executive Shaun Sutton said the fully subsidised training was so popular that its first intake attracted 270 applicants for only 16 places.

Schools demanded more graduates than they had, with many inquiring when the programme would expand to include other parts of the country.

Twenty graduates, from subjects with teacher shortages such as English, maths, te reo and science, will be chosen in November to to combat "stark" inequalities within schools. Their salaries would start from $37,000.

First-year participant Ruby Knight, one of four from Christchurch, said her two terms at Alfriston College in Manurewa had been one of the most challenging things she had done.

The 23-year-old has a bachelor of science, and a bachelor of arts in English from Canterbury University. Her interest in the effect of inequality on society - combined with enjoying tutoring - meant the programme "really grabbed me".

After an "intensive" summer course, she was given two year 11 and one year 10 English classes, and a mentor to see her through her two-year placement. "It's been a really rich experience; it's just so different to what I'm used to but I have absolutely learned so much."

She hoped to eventually teach in Christchurch.

An Education Ministry spokeswoman said the programme was progressing well and feedback was positive.

The ministry had commissioned a four-year, $200,000 New Zealand Council of Educational Research evaluation that would be used to decide whether to expand the programme. The ministry also contributed a one-off $5000 grant towards each participant's living costs and about $6000 to cover fees.

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- The Press

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