Today’s Education Review Office (ERO) report showing a ‘widespread’ lack of confidence in teacher graduates’ preparedness for the classroom is a reminder to government and institution bosses that tertiary education staff must be listened to when training courses are changed.
Expert staff and practitioners warned the Ministry of Education, the Tertiary Education Commission and colleges of education bosses that relaxing entry levels and focusing on the pedagogy of teacher education at the expense of practicum would result in a deterioration of student skills.
Repeated warnings at the time from members of the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education and then the Tertiary Education Union fell on deaf ears. Unfortunately, as the ERO report suggests, decision makers were putting the education of our children at risk by ignoring these concerns.
Sharn Riggs, secretary of the Tertiary Education Union said “the ERO report confirmed what staff have been telling government for years: if you relax standards and diminish the practical component of teacher training, new graduate teachers would be underprepared for the classroom and that ultimately it would be the education of our children that would suffer.”
The ERO report says it found “a lack of confidence in the selection, professional education and capabilities of many newly graduated teachers as they enter the profession.” It also said that from 2000 to 2015, New Zealand has witnessed a decline in performance “in the critical areas of reading, mathematics and science”.
Earlier this week a global study found that the average reading level of Kiwi 10-year-olds has dropped to its lowest level on record. New Zealand is currently ranked 32nd out of 50 countries in reading achievement, having dropped eleven places since 2011.
The Education Council said it is considering changes to make sure all future teachers enter the workforce well equipped to teach in the classrooms. It is vital that staff are given a leading role in this process so that the mistakes of the past are not repeated, the TEU said.
“The ERO report is a lesson to all decision makers. When making changes to professional training qualifications, the people who deliver the training day-in-day-out must be listened to. They know the profession better than anyone, and had their expertise been listened to at the time then this disappointing report could have been avoided,” Riggs said.