A Guest Post from Alwyn Poole
A few comments with regards to the thinking behind the potential use of “non-qualified” – and on that basis – “unregistered” – teachers in Partnership Schools. The qualified aspect implies attendance at a College of Education for a period of time – approx. 4 years for Primary School teachers and generally a year – after a degree – secondary school teachers.
Making sense of this goes back to the genuine (as opposed to conspiracy theorist) intent behind Partnership Schools. They are to work with the 15- 20% tail in New Zealand schools. That is – the group that the current state model and the bulk of teachers have not traditionally been able to have an effect upon – often due to the simple logistics of finding enough time to get one on one with children and their parents.
The first plus is straight forward – this has the potential to put more people in the classroom and effectively lower student:teacher ratios. Something that has been hard fought for in New Zealand.
Secondly it widens the range of people available and able to work with these children. Some may not have degrees, some may not be able to afford to take a year without income to go to a teachers college (i.e. they may be from a lower socio-economic group themselves or have a growing family), some may simply have phenomenal careers in their own field and have great skills and knowledge that they want to share with the young and the last thing they want is their passion theorized out of them through a year of teachers training.
Thirdly – if we are a little smarter – we can see it is a means of getting more teachers trained and registered. Many secondary teachers regard their year at teachers college as having been a waste of time and potential income (some people avoid teaching due to that year). What most did value is the teaching sections/practices in the classroom during that year. Teacher training as an employed, overseen “on the job training” (i.e. an apprenticeship) makes a lot of sense in many situations. If there are modules that the MOE and/or NZQA really require to be covered then they can be done as holiday courses. If it means taking two years to fully “qualify” – and then further time for “full registration” – so be it. Schools will be able to work out an incentive basis for this too if need be.
At Mt Hobson Middle School we staff primarily with fully qualified teachers. If we are involved in Partnership Schools we would choose to do the same. They take responsibility for overall course planning and work alongside other contributors we bring in. We have also made phenomenal use of “unqualified” teachers – as guest speakers, tutors for full modules, mentors for students, inspirations, etc. They have changed the lives of our students and it would be absolutely arrogant and short sighted of our teaching staff if we thought we could bring the same level of knowledge and experience in specialist areas that these people can bring. Our children stop asking; “when would I use this in the real world?” These people love coming in and contributing – some volunteer and for others it is a part of their income. As some examples:
- a Marine biologist and round-the-world yachtsman.
- a rocket scientist – spends time annually.
- a barrister and solicitor regularly contributes.
- surgeons and GPs.
- aid workers from World Vision and other organisations.
- two architects and interior designers regularly contribute.
- motivation mentors and speakers for youth – including in Health/Relationships.
- artists, a graphic designer and a potter for art modules.
- an international entrepreneur – software design, flying.
- a couple who speak of their experiences as Holocaust survivors.
- a World War 2 veteran who can in and contributed to the school during one module over an 8 year period.
- election officers.
- police officers and a fraud detective (cured the children re: plagiarism).
- international sportspeople – football, Olympic medallists and competitors.
- coaches in swimming, tennis, baseball, basketball, football.
- the Prime Minister and several MPs – from a range of parties have spoken.
- story tellers and writers.
- a builder who has come in for modules for the last 4 years.
- an archaeologist.
- an inspirational weightlifter with an inspirational life story.
- a publisher who has contributed for 6 years.
- a flight tutor and a commercial pilot.
- a Children’s Commisioner.
- business advisors for a business planning module.
- actors, a director and a producer for a film module.
- an MIT tutor for a section on engines and motors.
It has already been made clear – if people are employed for a period of time then these people will be police vetted and controls put in place for child protection reasons – something that the $220 three yearly registration fee teachers are currently paying does not seem to be able to guarantee.
Some of these arguments against these proposals get ridiculous. Next thing you will see/hear Union execs on $100,000+ arguing that it is immoral to make money out of education. For some of the children of this country we need to be innovative and make use of different people and resources. Groups need to put the patch protection behind them and remember education is for the children.