Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Trainee teachers: Govt moving the goalposts

File photo / Getty Images
File photo / Getty Images

Trainee teachers are accusing the Government of "moving the goalposts" by proposing a policy that would require new teachers to attain a postgraduate qualification before they can work.

About 40 protesters marched through central Auckland this morning chanting "save our schools, stand up for our kids".

It was a far more subdued affair than Friday's protest when more than 300 students took to Auckland's streets to protest changes to tertiary education funding in last month's budget, resulting in 39 arrests.

The organiser of today's protest, Maria Schwass, said Education Minister Hekia Parata's announcements last week that a postgraduate qualification would become the minimum requirement for all trainee teachers was "disgusting".

The Government is to invest an extra $60 million over four years to boost teacher recruitment and training. A postgraduate qualification will become the minimum requirement for all trainee teachers, and a new teacher "appraisal system" will be developed.

Ms Schwass completed a three-year Bachelor of Education degree last year, but she was concerned she may have to go back to university.

"That doesn't necessarily improve the quality of teaching because anyone who has a degree in any unrelated area to education can go in, do a one year post-grad and they would be considered to be a more superior teacher to someone who's done a three-year undergraduate degree in teaching. We've studied hard for three years and it's just not fair.

"I've got four children, I need to be getting out there and working to feed them, to give them a good life. I didn't get into teaching for the money, I went in because I love teaching and I want to make a positive difference in the lives of the people that I teach and now that's just being stripped away from me, basically. I feel really betrayed by the National Government, I really do."

Single parent Nicola Sheehy is in the final year of her undergraduate degree.

"We've done what we were supposed to - the three-year degree - and now it feels like the Government has moved the goalposts."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Education was adamant that teachers currently studying would not be affected because the new qualification would not be introduced until 2015.

"The proposal will not affect students currently enrolled in an undergraduate course. They will be able to complete their qualification and enter the profession.

"The proposal responds to earlier recommendations put forward by the Workforce Advisory Group - whose members are made up of sector representatives - and is part of the Government's plan to raise the quality of teaching in New Zealand schools."

The ministry would work with tertiary providers and others to develop the proposal.

- APNZ

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