Trainee and beginning teachers are angry over proposed changes to teacher training programmes at Massey University.
In a paper entitled “College of Education Academic Reform”, the university is proposing radical change to initial teacher education. It proposes to discontinue all undergraduate teacher education by cutting its three-year Bachelor of Education Early Years degree and the four-year Bachelor of Education Primary. That would mean students could only study teacher education through a one year, graduate diploma.
It is also proposing to merge the Massey University College of Education into an Institute of Education beneath the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, with an increased focus on attracting post-graduate research. This move may threaten the jobs of teaching staff involved in initial teacher education, who aren’t classed as “research-active”.
Young and new members of the teachers’ union NZEI Te Riu Roa believe the proposals could be incredibly damaging to teacher education in New Zealand. Jennifer Langridge, currently studying a graduate diploma through Massey says “although post graduate study can produce quality teachers, post-graduate students often agree that the pressure-cooker situation of being pushed through training and out into the ‘real world’ often leads them to be burnt out and feel under-prepared in some areas of the classroom.”
NZEI says is wants to see the university challenge the growing assumption that post-graduate research is superior to undergraduate teaching.
However Massey University spokesman James Gardiner said the proposed changes create “an exciting opportunity to position Massey University’s teacher education as an international leader.”
“It also proposes new pathways into postgraduate education that will lead to more highly qualified teachers who are effective professionals and professional leaders throughout their lives.”
Mr Gardiner said international evidence suggested the best outcomes would be achieved by providing teacher education to those who already had undergraduate degrees.
“What is proposed is by no means a radical change – we have numerous excellent teachers in the profession now who have completed one-year graduate diplomas … having first completed undergraduate degrees,” Mr Gardiner said.