Struggle ahead for fast-track teachers

By Kate Shuttleworth

Teach NZ says the scheme would help cover shortages in hard-to-staff areas such as South Auckland. Photo / Thinkstock
Teach NZ says the scheme would help cover shortages in hard-to-staff areas such as South Auckland. Photo / Thinkstock

Teachers who front classrooms in poor schools after just six weeks of training may struggle for acceptance, if the early reaction to a ground-breaking Kiwi programme is anything to go by.

The Herald on Sunday last weekend revealed the University of Auckland and Teach First NZ were planning to run a scheme where 20 degree graduates were fast-tracked into the classroom with just six weeks of teacher-specific training.

The plan still needs Teachers Council sign-off, but Teach NZ says similar schemes operate overseas and it would help cover shortages in hard-to-staff areas such as South Auckland.

But the principal of Mangere College, John Heyes, said he did not have a shortage of applicants for teaching positions and the programme was not the right way to tackle inequality in education.

"The programme is linked to low decile schools in Auckland, but it doesn't really apply here - it's more applicable to rural New Zealand," he said, suggesting those schools were harder to staff.

"I don't see Teach First as a vehicle for removing educational inequality, these socio-cultural realities are more complex."

Manurewa College principal Salvatore Gargiulo agreed the plan was insensitive to low decile schools and said his experience of it overseas was not good.

"I taught in London and took over from a teacher on the Teach First UK programme who had quit after two weeks. We had four graduates from that programme at the school. The graduates couldn't handle it and in the end it felt like an experiment," he said.

However, Minister of Education Hekia Parata defended the concept.

"It's important to remember that Teach First NZ will not replace other models and it's only for 20 graduates," she said.

"Under-achievement is a problem in New Zealand and we need to look at diverse opportunities."

Recent graduates of the Graduate Diploma of Teaching have been venting their frustrations over the Teach First NZ scheme on social networking sites, saying it demeans their hard work.

Teach First NZ said many people had shown an interest in the scheme.

- Herald on Sunday

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