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Kerre Woodham: Great pre-Budget announcement for getting more people into teaching

Kerre Woodham,
Publish Date
Mon, 27 May 2024, 1:20pm
Photo / 123rf
Photo / 123rf

Kerre Woodham: Great pre-Budget announcement for getting more people into teaching

Kerre Woodham,
Publish Date
Mon, 27 May 2024, 1:20pm

One of the best teachers at my daughter’s intermediate school, Ponsonby Intermediate, was a former chippy-turned-teacher.

He was a great example of somebody who'd trained in one career then decided to move into another — teaching. And there's a whole bunch of kids who are very, very glad he made that choice.

It was a great pre-Budget announcement from Erica Stanford, who said yesterday $53 million will be going towards recruiting and training teachers, teachers who are desperately needed in all sectors of education and specifically looking at people who have trained in one career, and wanting to move into teaching.

So there'll be more places available within the classroom for people who are looking to change careers or return. And this is especially important too I think, after the Education Review Office report a week or so ago said too many new teachers feel poorly prepared for their jobs. Remember that one?

The ARO said 60 per cent of the principals it interviewed said new teachers were not ready. Over a third of teachers said they were not able to manage classroom behaviour when they started in the role. A third of new primary school teachers said they were unprepared to teach science, and presumably maths as well.

Education Minister Erica Stanford says over the next three years we need to find an estimated 680 more secondary teachers. And while it would be ideal to train New Zealanders to fill those places, there simply isn't time and we have to look at other options.

“There is a demand for teachers coming in from offshore, especially since we moved the secondary school teachers straight to residence pathway on the green list. I did that because those numbers of secondary school teachers’ prediction over the next three years is quite grim. We're looking to be about 680 short, we can't train our way out of that. We are going to need to supplement it with some overseas teachers. And so there is quite good demand. But you know, of course I'd much rather train local people and that's why this on site training program is exciting because a lot of the people have been using it so far in the small scale trial, the mid career change people who decided to leave accounting or whatever they were doing and come and give back to young people.”

Great idea. That was Erica Stanford Education Minister talking to Mike Hosking this morning.

The way we train teachers, I think we have recognised, is not ideal. Our young people who are going from school into education, some of them will adapt amazingly. Some are finding that managing classroom behaviour, realising that there are deficiencies in their own education so you can't teach something you do not know or do not understand, even when you have the resource material if you don't understand what you're teaching, you're not going to be able to impart that to the kids.

I think if you come into teaching with a little bit of life experience, a little bit of understanding of how to work with all types of people, if you have your own children, that might give you another facet when it comes to your interaction with the children.  

You don't have to have your own children to be a good teacher, but having all types of humans teaching, I think, is a very good thing for our kids.

If you've got all sorts of people, a broad spectrum of people, different ages. You know everyone will have their own particular passion subject. This is a good thing.

And I'd love to know if you have ever thought about changing careers and moving into teaching. If you come from a family of educators, then it's likely that you either become an educator yourself or you say I never I am never going to do it, but always at the back of your mind you're thinking maybe, just maybe?

I come from a family of teachers as well and I've always thought I would love to be in the classroom but I think I'd be hopeless because I'd have favourites and if they didn't want to learn, I'd think well bugger you then, go and be slave labour somewhere in the third world and see just how lucky you are to have this free education. So I think I'd be a bit hopeless.  

So if you have ever thought about changing careers, I would love to hear from you. I would also love to hear from those who perhaps have been in the classroom. It makes so much sense to put new teachers and to put those who are thinking about becoming teachers into a classroom.

I don't think you can prepare yourself for what it's like until you're there. Of course, that means that you have to have a school that has people capable of being mentors, and who have the time to be able to harness the energy and the talents of the wannabe teacher so that they're in addition to the classroom rather than detracting from what's going on in the classroom and that too is a gift as, as we know, when we were talking about good managers and bad managers, when we were talking about bullying a couple of weeks ago.

You know to be able to get the best out of somebody is a gift and needs to be rewarded. So not every teacher who has a newbie shadowing them is going to be the best person to show them the ropes unless they have been specifically chosen for their skills and talents.

But I would love to hear from you because I truly think teaching is one of those incredible jobs. We all remember the teacher who changed our lives for the better. There are so many stories of young people who have overcome terrible starts in life because of it. Free education and a great teacher.

I remember all of mine that made me hunger for knowledge and more,  to see the world as a much bigger place. I think it's an amazing career and vocation. And the two are separate.

Some are born to be teachers, some can be shaped to be teachers. And I would love to know, with the incentives we're getting from the government, whether it's something you would think about.

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