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Leading UC educator backs Government’s teaching overhaul

Leading UC educator backs Government’s teaching overhaul

January 23, 2014

A University of Canterbury (UC) education expert has endorsed the Government’s focus on quality teaching and strong school leadership.

Professor Gail Gillon, UC’s College of Education Pro-Vice Chancellor, says the Government has accurately identified one of the key challenges in the New Zealand schooling system.

``Closing the academic achievement gap between our high achieving students and our struggling learners must be a priority for New Zealand.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (2011) data clearly showed that in regards to reading progress the gap between our high and low performing readers in primary schools is one of the largest in the world. In particular, we need to raise literacy achievement in children in low socioeconomic areas, Maori and Pacific children, and children with special learning needs.

``Resourcing Expert and Lead Teachers, as well as Change and Executive Principals to help support a substantial shift in academic achievement in areas such as literacy maths and science education is a very positive step in the right direction.’’

Professor Gillon also welcomed the concept of building communities of practice and collaboration across schools. She hoped these new communities of practice for teachers and principals includes the university sector and, in particular, university-based schools of teacher education.

Professor Letitia Fickel, Head of the School of Teacher Education at UC, says preparing high quality teaching graduates for the school and early childhood sector needs to be in partnership with the school communities.

``Having lead and expert teachers will support our collaborative effort in ensuring high quality teaching experiences for our student on placements in schools. Further it creates clear career pathways within schools for our teaching graduates to aspire to in their development.

``We look forward to supporting the professional development of teachers and principals in their ongoing professional learning in these newly created leadership positions.’’

Professor Gillon supported the announcement of $10 million for additional research in effective teaching practices.

``Practice-based research is critically important in advancing our knowledge base in teaching and will help ensure new innovative practices and targeted interventions are rigorously developed and evaluated.’’

She says there was no mention in today’s announcements of the importance of quality leadership and teaching in the early childhood sector. The early years are a critically important period in children’s cognitive social and emotional development.

``The establishment of positive partnerships between whanau/ families and educators begins with early education engagement which, in turn, will lead to positive transition into the school sector,’’ Professor Gillon says.


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