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Trustees seek action on beginning teacher quality

Media release

School trustees seek action on beginning teacher quality

The New Zealand School Trustees Association is calling on the education sector to abandon patch protection in the interests of improving teacher quality.

NZSTA President Lorraine Kerr says it was not reassuring to read recent media coverage in which Auckland school principals rated 73% of short listed teaching applicants in November/December 2007 as very poor or poor.

The survey also showed that almost half the applicants were beginning teachers, and a third were applying from overseas.

“Unfortunately, we have also recently heard that over 50% of beginning teachers do not go teaching within 12 months of graduating, a statistic which must be worrying given there is a teacher supply shortage,” Lorraine Kerr says.

In addition, concerns have been expressed through feedback to the Ministry of Education’s Initial Teacher Education consultation document, Becoming a Teacher in the 21st Century.

While New Zealand schools are generally well served by well qualified and competent teachers, it is hard to escape the conclusion that there is a teacher quality issue amongst new teachers, she says.

“I am hopeful that those of us in the education sector can look past our own tendencies to protect our patches, and support change to address these critical issues.

“Teacher quality is vital to our goal of increasing student achievement, so we cannot afford not to,” Lorraine Kerr says.

As the employer, and in a time of teacher shortages, many school boards of trustees are in the position of having limited recruitment options available to them other than recruiting/employing from the pool of beginning teachers graduating from teaching training each year.

“This means employing schools do need assurance that the quality of the recruitment “pool” is high, if principals and boards are to have the confidence to permanently employ more of these new teachers.”

There are questions about the quality of beginning teachers at the present time and urgent debate and actions are needed to lift the overall quality of this recruitment pool, Lorraine Kerr says.

“NZSTA suggests that robust nationally consistent selection processes to gain entry into teacher training would be good start, although clearly issues such as the need to lift the status of teaching, and to pay exceptional teachers better, are also matters deserving of consideration in the pursuit of better overall teacher quality.”

Lorraine Kerr says NZSTA expects that at least some of the concerns identified from the recent consultation process regarding initial teacher education will be considered by the Ministry of Education and ultimately by Government.

This may also prove to be a catalyst to some further sector group discussion on how to move forward on improving teacher quality, she says.


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