Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Train teachers in schools: report

Chantelle Hamilton is part of a Macleans College programme for aspiring teachers. Photo / Chris Gorman
Chantelle Hamilton is part of a Macleans College programme for aspiring teachers. Photo / Chris Gorman

Aspiring teachers should be trained mostly at schools instead of university to help get the best and brightest in front of classrooms, a report argues.

The push for "training schools" comes in the first year of a groundbreaking scheme by one Auckland school in which aspiring teachers complete their training in school and as members of staff.

A report released today by the NZ Initiative think-tank and co-authored by former Auckland Grammar School headmaster John Morris argues more options are needed for those interested in teaching.

Teachers are the single biggest influence on student achievement in schools, the Teaching Stars: Transforming the Education Profession report states.

One way to improve the profession should be the option to train teachers in schools, which would have top schools accredited as training schools where teacher qualifications could be offered in conjunction with a university.

The report notes the challenges of such an approach, but cites similar initiatives that are already running - and doing so within existing regulations.

This year a school-based programme for aspiring teachers started at Macleans College in East Auckland, a collaboration between the school and Victoria University.

Four trainees are based at the school throughout the year and are considered members of staff, joining a faculty and participating in the full life of the school.

The trainees access Victoria University's online Graduate Diploma in Teaching programme, including lectures and research.

They will not be teaching but complete a seven-week teaching practicum at Macleans and another seven weeks in another school.

Macleans College principal Byron Bentley said the school would continue to take university students on seven-week placements, which worked well.

"But we have thought for some time [that] the best way for aspiring secondary teachers to learn is in a school."

PPTA president Angela Roberts said increased training came with risks and would require extra resources in schools, meaning teacher trainees would possibly not be exposed to lower decile schools.

Pay for excellence, says Morris

Teaching excellence goes unrecognised because pay is not linked to performance, says the former principal of a top secondary school.

John Morris is the co-author of a NZ Initiative report on teaching quality with Rose Patterson, which argues the case for performance-related pay. The report, published today, proposes a performance-related pay system in which teachers would need to apply to ascend levels on a pay scale, moving up when certain standards were met.

Mr Morris said the standards would not be based on student achievement data but on factors such as contribution to the school as a whole. He said the Education Council of Aotearoa NZ (Educanz), which will replace the Teachers Council, was a strong candidate to articulate such standards.

Mr Morris is the chairman of the transition board overseeing the establishment of Educanz, and his comments have infuriated the PPTA union, who strongly oppose the proposed pay overhaul.

President Angela Roberts said she had written to Education Minister Hekia Parata calling for Mr Morris' resignation from the board.

Ms Parata said Mr Morris was well-respected and one of 11 people on the transition board. "I am confident that any potential conflicts of interest can be managed," she said.

- NZ Herald

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