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Open Polytechnic Celebrates First Graduates Of Initial Teacher Education Qualifications

Open Polytechnic, a business division of Te Pūkenga, and New Zealand’s specialist provider of online and distance learning, celebrated the first graduates of its Graduate Diploma in Teaching programme at ceremonies held throughout New Zealand recently.

The flexibility of online, distance learning enabled Skye Stanley (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga; Ngāti Rongomaiwahine) from Hawke’s Bay who completed the Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary Education), and Taranaki’s Lucy Dorn who completed the Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary Education), to study with Open Polytechnic, without having to leave their regions.

Skye, who originally trained as a qualified nurse, decided to re-train as a teacher because it offered more family-friendly hours.

When researching her training options, Skye said “I couldn't see how I could do my teaching qualification without travelling to Auckland or Palmerston North every few weeks for tutorials and practicums, until I found Open Polytechnic’s programme.”

“The staff helped me by discussing my options and getting placements in Hawke’s Bay, where I live.”

It also meant it was easier for Skye to organise childcare for her young family and she didn’t have to worry about accommodation during placements, since she could stay at home throughout her studies.

Skye says her favourite whakataukī (proverb) is “Kia uru kahikatea ki tū” which means “Success through the unity of purpose”, which inspired her throughout her studies.

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Skye found the Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary Education) programme, through Open Polytechnic, very practical and the eight-week practicum at William Colenso College, where she now works, helped her to find employment there as a Kaiako Putaiao (Science Teacher).

“The practicums were helpful in helping me to choose where I wanted to work when I finished.” Skye said.

“Having a great partner school made a difference in finding a job afterwards, because I wouldn't have applied if I didn't have my practicum there.”

Open Polytechnic graduate Lucy Dorn put a career in the human resources industry on the backburner, after a stint as a teacher aide at her children’s school “ignited a passion for education.”

Now she is a qualified teacher at St Joseph's in Ōpunakē, Taranaki, thanks in part, to her Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary Education).

Lucy’s priorities changed in 2013, when her oldest son (now 10) was born.

She not only decided to switch focus onto her family commitments, but when it was time to return to work, she decided to change her career as well.

“Getting into teaching was a natural progression for me, influenced by various factors in my life,” Lucy said.

“This teacher aide experience ignited a desire for a new challenge.”

Lucy was also inspired by her mother, who was also a primary school teacher.

“I saw first-hand the impact teachers can have on shaping young minds and fostering a love for learning,” Lucy said.

“This, combined with my own experiences and the joy I found in working with children, led me to pursue a postgraduate qualification in teaching.”

According to Open Polytechnic Programme Delivery Manager for initial teacher education qualifications, Nicola Wright, it is great to be able to provide ākonga (learners) with the opportunity to change careers and get a teaching qualification that leads to a job at a school.

“It provides an excellent opportunity to build mutually beneficial relationships between schools and ākonga,” Nicola said.

“There is a teaching shortage in this country, so it is amazing to see ākonga (learners) return to work at the schools they had their practicums at when they were studying, once they graduate.”

The Graduate Diploma in Teaching provides an important pathway for ākonga (learners) to be able to get into the teaching profession, even if they are based outside of the main centres.

“These two ākonga (learners) show how it is possible to become teachers no matter where you live, through online, distance learning with an Open Polytechnic qualification.”

Find out more about the Graduate Diploma of Teaching programmes on the Open Polytechnic website: www.openpolytechnic.ac.nz

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