Unqualified Teachers

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.
  • accountants.
  • 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.


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  • conwaycaptain

    I went to a Merchant Navy Cadet School in the UK and took my Professional Certificates 2nd Mates, Mates and Masters at Warsash and Akl Nautical School. The lecturers at all these establishments who taiught us our professional subjects were NOT trained teachers but had all been at least Mate of a ship and in some cases Master.
    These men were the most inspirational teachers I have never met. Some of them their teaching methjods woulod have OSH and the PC Brigade down on their heads these days.
    I was a volunteer watch officer on the Spirit of Adventure and the kids really liked having me as a teacher, my methods were different, their vocab was widened considerably!!! and as they said “You have done it our teachers havent.
    Good Luck

    • Phar Lap

      @conwaycaptain. ever been training on the TS Vindicatrics,down in Canal Bank Sharpness.

      • conwaycaptain

        NO but sailed with ex Vindi and Indefat lads

  • JimboBug

    I went to public school in the UK – none of my teachers were “qualified”. Didn’t hold me back from getting into Cambridge and many of the teachers were properly inspirational. It isn’t often, for example, that a funeral service for a retired teacher needs to be moved to an abbey that seats 1,000 people and still has to turn old boys away from the door due to being full.

    The UK public school model has also been moved, in part, to the state sector as you have a choice if you want to go into teaching now. A year long PGCE or a two-year on-the-job apprenticeship. My wife (who did the PGCE route) admits that, normally, the on-the-job teachers are better. Ironically, they are the ones who can’t move their qualification over here and register to teach in NZ!

  • Symgardiner

    One point that I only realised when reading this article…
    These schools have a focus on the 20% of kids that the current system and teachers are not reaching. Given this is the case, why would we expect setting such schools up with the same type of staff would make a radical change in the outcomes??? Isn’t it obvious that to get better outcomes for these kids that we need different and better people working with them… not the same old “TCol graduates”?

    • Magor

      Excellent point, pity that it cannot be broadcasted in MSM…!!!

  • DangerMice

    Just wondering if the teacher’s unions against home schooling as well? Obviously all those parents aren’t fully qualified.

    • conwaycaptain

      Homeschooled our son for 4 years. he is Dyslexic and got no help from [email protected]#WIt teachers in a Normal Int School so we did it. Went back to school ion 6th form got 6 x 6th form Certs, 4 x Bursary and an A- in an Uni paper. Now has a BA and 2 Photographic Diplomas.
      I have a Masters FG and his Mum had a MSc in Analytical Chemitsry and a BA Hons in Japanese!!! So we wernt a bundh of Thickos!!!

  • blokeintakapuna

    Well said Alwyn Poole!
    Let’s forget though, when you’re trying to protect your vested-interest and feather-bedding of your colleagues for your own agenda’s – things like truth, continuous improvement and logical arguements go out the door with the shrilling of the unions…

  • 2ndAmendment

    Two serious problems with this post.

    First of all – they’re not “unqualified” what they are is ununionised. And that’s why they are so much better than union-indoctrinated, union-approved, union-supporting drones.

    Second, the point of charter schools is to get rid of the union/leftist control over the education system! We need to get schools independent, get them funded by parents who care about their children, and stop all this you-get-education-for-free socialist crap. That’s what charter schools are about! Once its clear they give much much better results in the slums, them middle-class moms will (finally, rightly) demand private/charter status for the local schools too!

    • justin

      Question – can these un-registered teachers just not join a union after they’ve been employed?

  • baw

    A bit of theory does not hurt at all, but nothing makes you a better teacher than on the job training. I arrived in Korea to teach English and was sent straight out to the school to start working right away. Yes there is help from my co teacher with lessons etc, but the best training is that which you get on the job. I am now 6 months into the job and despite the fact my contract says no teaching alone have done several of my main classes alone and have loved it.

    My sister did early childhood, in her third year she found that she was unable to manage a class. (After 3 years of fees to Waikato). Much better to have on the job training.

    Any is there not a group called Teach NZ which is brining teachers straight into the school from the professions.

  • EpochNZ

    I had the great fortune of doing a Viticulture degree at a polytech in Blenheim. When the course co-ordinators needed a tutor for a module they went looking around the local businesses for recruits, so we had our refrigeration module done by a guy from a local engineering firm who did that at all the local wineries, we had top viticulturists, wine makers, engineers etc……none of them “trained” but all excellent.

  • david W

    Reading this brought back memories of being offered teaching jobs here in NZ at high schools without any teaching training. I graduated with major in Physics and could also teach maths. Px/Maths teachers are in short supply so for a few years I got comments to the effect “come work for us”. You can train on the side while you teach. Clearly Maths/Physics teachers were (are) in short supply. Needless to say the thought of teaching 30 bratty kids for 5 hours a day didn’t apply (thought the holidays did!)

  • I’m not against regular Private Schools, but with overseas charter schools – ‘unqualified’ often means ‘Preacher’. Look at the social division caused in the UK by ‘faith’ schools.

    “Faith School Menace”

    Why is it many of the organizations lining up to start Charter Schools are fundamentalist Christians?, Like the Destiny Church and Manukau Christian Trust..

    “School wants to teach creationism ”

    Is it pure coincidence than John Banks is a creationist?

    “I believe Bible’s account of how life began”
    Harmless you say, you don’t have to attend? – Trouble is social division and graduates ignorant of basic science affect us all. NZ survives off our Agriculture and Bio-Science industries. Don’t screw it up.

    • Random66

      You do realize most private schools are christian schools? So your concern with Charter Schools must be that the teachers aren’t qualified verses christianity because you are ok with ‘regular private schools’.

      • phronesis

        Charter schools may have more leeway with regards to what they teach. The devil is in the detail as usual.

    • Tony

      of course people have a choice!

  • justin

    Hey Alwyn Poole! My favourite teacher was an Alwyn Poole, an economics teacher at Tauranga Boys College. This guy was a stella teacher, you know the made a real difference in my education type of teacher.
    This guy alone justifies my belief in pay for performance. He should have been on twice the salary of some of my other teachers.
    Sounds like he’s moved into management. Evidence that the best teachers get their extra $ by taking promotion into administration and are then lost to classroom teaching.