Finnish expert sounds warning on NZ's fast-tracked teacher training

By Kate Shuttleworth

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Fifteen graduates have been selected as part of New Zealand's first fast-tracked teacher-training programme, but a Finnish educationist says top-performing countries have rejected the idea.

Graduates will receive six weeks' teacher training and will then be placed in front of secondary classrooms as part of the controversial initiative to fill jobs in lower socio-economic schools next year.

The Teach First New Zealand course focuses on securing graduates with languages, engineering and science backgrounds.

The teachers will receive further support from the University of Auckland while teaching, and would be paid at an unqualified teacher rate of around $37,000 a year.

Yesterday, Associate Professor Graeme Aitken said 6 per cent of people who had applied for the course were accepted, as opposed to undergraduate teacher training programmes that had a 42 per cent acceptance rate.

Up to 250 people had applied for Teach First NZ, and 15 places were now filled.

Teach First NZ chief executive Shaun Sutton says applications officially close at the end of the week and more places were likely to be filled.

At Parliament yesterday, Finnish Education Ministry representative Dr Pasi Sahlberg told MPs that fast-track teaching schemes and performance pay were things his country had avoided.

Finland's education system is ranked as one of the best in the world.

Dr Sahlberg said there were several things Finland would not introduce: privatisation of education through charter schools, performance pay measured by standardised testing, fast-tracked teacher training, central prescription of standards or curriculum, and sanctions on underperforming schools.

"Things like Teach First or Teach for America are very common in many parts of the world, but you do not find them in high-performing education systems."

- APNZ

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