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MIT Empowers Teachers

MIT enables hundreds of teachers to gain higher qualifications and better salaries

Years of standing up and teaching in a classroom are often equivalent to time spent behind the desk learning, and hundreds of New Zealand educators have turned their years of teaching into a higher level tertiary qualification through a scheme at Manukau Institute of Technology.

The scheme assesses their previous learning and work experience and over the past 12 months more than 450 secondary school teachers have gained the Level 7 New Zealand Diploma in Specialist Subjects (Secondary Teacher) through MIT’s Centre for Assessment of Prior Learning (CAPL), in a programme developed by the Ministry of Education and Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA).

Most of these teachers joined the profession from trade careers as the school curriculum changed to include technical subjects such as woodworking or home economics, says MIT CAPL manager Ruth Peterson.

However, since these teachers were historically only required to obtain a teaching certificate, they are now unable to ascend to the higher salary groups for their profession, reserved for those with specialist diplomas or degrees.

“In some cases heads of departments are earning less than more junior staff with higher qualifications,” says Ruth.

“Prior learning assessment helps teachers overcome the salary barrier. They can convert their experience into higher qualifications.”

CAPL evaluates and assesses the experience and skills teachers have acquired on the job and how these can lead to the award of a recognised qualification, or be credited as part of a programme of study.

An assessment process involving five NZQA unit standards, equalling 120 credits, is then provided to top up the previous learning and experience into the Level 7 diploma.

For most teachers who hold a teaching certificate and who have trade qualifications and over a decade of teaching experience, the CAPL course provides the final component to obtain the diploma, which can be gained within six to eight weeks.

“The course equates to one third of a Level 7 diploma, while the existing certificate and work experience make up the remaining two-thirds,” says Ruth.

The CAPL programme also enables overseas qualifications and experience to be converted into a qualification that is recognised in New Zealand.

Head of the technology department at Manurewa High School Steve Perks enrolled in the programme at MIT to convert a UK teaching qualification, which was created for teachers with a technical background, but which was not recognised in New Zealand.

Although he needed to obtain a New Zealand qualification to reach the same salary grade as most other heads of department, Steve was initially unenthusiastic about undergoing the assessment.

However, he found the process to be of great value. “I have 15 years experience as a teacher and at first thought it was annoying having to go through the assessment and being away from school, which is a nuisance at the best of times. But in the end it was worth it.”

Steve gained valuable insight into the New Zealand education system through the programme, which increased his awareness of issues affecting his students, especially those with a Maori and Pasifika backgrounds.

“It encouraged me to take a thorough look at different aspects of the education system, which enabled me to better understand what affects my students.”

According to Ruth, Steve’s experience is typical of many CAPL participants who return to their schools transformed.

“Many say the programme was the best professional development of their teaching careers. They go back into the schools with renewed enthusiasm, a sharper understanding of the curriculum and a greater passion for what they do and how they can improve their teaching.”

CAPL is an initiative of the Tertiary Accord of New Zealand (TANZ) and is also offered at other institutions that are TANZ members.

The MIT centre also provides prior learning assessment for a wide range of professions, says Ruth.

“A lot of people have changed jobs since they first became qualified and need to determine how their prior learning relates to their current careers, while others need to have their overseas qualifications assessed.”


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