Most frequently asked questions about the organisation and programme can be found in the relevant section of the website. Common FAQs can also be found below.
How is Teach First NZ a solution?
The causes of educational inequality are varied, and thus must be overcome with varied solutions. Research has demonstrated that the education gap can be closed – and that the two most powerful in-school factors with which to do so are effective teachers and effective leaders. At the heart of the Teach First NZ vision is the potency of exceptional teaching and exceptional leadership to expand educational opportunity. Teach First NZ is an ambitious organisation, but is by no means working on this goal alone. We have committed partners and are one of a number of important initiatives focused on tackling educational inequality in New Zealand.
Is Teach First NZ a 'fast-track crash course' into teaching?
Teach First NZ is not a fast-track programme - in fact on the contrary it is a comprehensive and research proven two-year programme. Firstly, those wishing to apply must have already attained a specialist undergraduate degree with strong grades. Candidates then go through a highly rigorous selection process, comprising an extensive online application form, a telephone interview, and a full day of assessment activities and interviews. Then a six-week Initial Intensive residential programme - living and breathing teaching - provides a foundation on which a school-based model of teacher education builds. School-based models are strongly supported by principals as another way to attract a new kind of top talent to teaching, and include intensive and ongoing mentoring, teacher education, further intensives, and professional development over two years.
Who is behind Teach First NZ?
Teach First NZ is an independent not-for-profit charitable trust, which has formed key teacher education partnerships with The University of Auckland and partner schools. Teach First NZ is non-partisan, and is not linked to any particular political party or view.
Who prepares the teachers?
The teacher education programme is a partnership between The University of Auckland, schools, and Teach First NZ. The core teacher education programme is led by University of Auckland staff and supported by In-school Mentors. University of Auckland specialists visit participants in schools every 2-3 weeks throughout the two years, and participants return to campus during the programme for ongoing study. On successful completion of the programme they are awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary Field-based).
How long is the training, and what is different about it?
The full programme is two years and two months in length and uses an innovative employment-based teacher education model where participants are concurrently paid a salary and teach on a reduced timetable. An intensive six-week residential programme provides a foundation on which this school-based model of teacher education builds. Participants will have specialist undergraduate degrees and undergo a rigorous selection process, and the initial six-week residential is followed by two years of ongoing training and education. School-based models are strongly supported by principals and research evidence.
If the programme is so good, why don't all teachers train this way?
Just as children are taught differently according to their unique learning styles, so too do adults learn in a wide variety of ways. We support multiple pathways into teaching and the Teach First NZ programme is not a replacement for traditional pathways. While the training is similar in content to traditonal programmes, it is structured in very different ways. Teach First NZ is a challenging programme, and is certainly not for everyone. We aim to attract graduates and professionals who may not otherwise have considered teaching, and together with The University of Auckland have developed an innovative and research-proven way to expand entry pathways.
How is the programme funded?
Teacher salaries are publically funded as normal, and the Ministry of Education also supports core teacher education costs and residential elements of the programme. The additional philanthropic support of Teach First NZ does not cover or subsidise ‘core education’ costs. This private funding supports recruitment, additional graduate selection capacity, management of our university partnership, a complementary leadership programme, and our alumni programme.
What has been the response from the New Zealand education sector?
Teach First NZ has support from the Secondary Principals Assocation (SPANZ), as well as other key education groups such as the School Trustees Association (NZSTA) and COMET Auckland (Auckland Council CCO). The secondary teachers union (PPTA) commissioned Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, to undertake a literature review of similar programmes overseas. Teach First NZ has a constructive relationship with the PPTA, and seeks to work positively with teacher organisations. Many Teach First participants choose to become PPTA members.
Is the programme for secondary schools only?
Yes, the programme will only be available at secondary level.
Is Teach First NZ a teacher supply initiative?
Currently in New Zealand there is not an overall shortage of teachers, but in certain subjects there are shortages. While Teach First NZ currently focuses on high-priority subject areas, the programme is not simply an initiative aimed at increasing teacher supply. We aim to increase diversity in the current workforce and to attract top graduates and professionals who may not otherwise have considered teaching.
But our wider aims are much broader than just preparing new teachers. Over the long-term we aspire to build a community of alumni working to close the education gap. Two-thirds of alumni from similar well-established programmes overseas work in education. Those who don’t work directly in education remain strong advocates of its cause, taking with them a personal understanding of the realities in their schools.
How many participants will be selected for the programme?
There are twenty places in each intake of the programme. Participants are currently placed secondary schools serving lower decile communities in Auckland and Northland. It is anticipated that the programme will be made available to other regions in future years.
What is the selection process?
Teach First NZ looks for bright, well-rounded graduates and professionals, particularly those who otherwise may not have considered teaching. A highly rigorous selection model is used to identify individuals who demonstrate the traits needed to excel as effective teachers and future leaders working towards educational equity for all. Applicants must have a strong university degree, in a discipline related to a school subject. Following a written application and telephone interview, candidates are then invited to attend a full-day assessment centre including interview, group role play, and the teaching of a mini-lesson. Selection decisions are communicated following the assessment centre.
What will the graduate starting salary be?
Participants are paid according to their qualification level as outlined in the Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement. Those with the undergraduate degree minimum are paid approximately $37,000 for their first year of teaching. If participants hold postgraduate qualifications (e.g Postgradute Diploma or Masters) they will be paid at a higher rate according to the collective agreement.
How successful have similar programmes overseas been at attracting top graduates?
In 2011, Teach First in the UK received over 5,000 applications for 700 places, while Teach For Australia received around 800 applications for 45 places. Teach First in the UK is now one of the largest recruiters of Oxford and Cambridge graduates, and is the 3rd most prestigious graduate employer according to The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers list.
What does the research say about similar ‘Teach First’ programmes overseas?
In almost all cases research from overseas indicates that teachers from these kinds of pathways perform at least as well as those teachers from other pathways, but that crucially they have a marked impact on education inequality. To date the Teach First programme has been the subject of two full evaluations (2008 & 2011) by the UK education inspectorate Ofsted (similar to New Zealand’s Education Review Office), and a review conducted by the University of Manchester (2010).
Teach First’s 2008 Ofsted review found that the programme successfully recruits ‘highly motivated graduates with outstanding personal qualities and strong subject expertise’, with around half achieving Qualified Teacher Status to an outstanding level, a third to a good level and the others to a satisfactory level. The six-week summer institute was found to be a particularly successful and innovative feature of the training, and the central subject training was also of a high quality. The report noted that ‘very few trainees withdrew from the programme’ and that ‘the outstanding level of achievement of the best Teach First trainees seen was so uniformly high that they were judged by inspectors to be amongst the most exceptional trainees produced by any teacher training route.’ The report concludes that the ‘trainees were highly committed to Teach First’s aim of countering educational disadvantage and had a markedly beneficial impact on the schools involved’.
Teach First’s 2011 Ofsted review of the programme awarded the highest possible grade of ‘Outstanding’ in all 44 areas evaluated. The report stated that ‘Teach First is very successful in meeting its commitment to address educational disadvantage by placing high-quality graduates into schools in challenging circumstances, and, through this, to working closely with the schools to improve student aspirations, experiences and achievement’. Ofsted found that many participants are already having an impact in their schools, even in their first year, and many are ‘well on their way to becoming inspirational teachers and some already are’. The training participants receive was found to be of ‘consistently high quality’, and the report notes that Teach First’s retention is ‘exceptionally high’ and ‘significantly above the national average’.
The 2010 study by the University of Manchester used a content analysis of interviews with principals and middle managers, and identified the following as the most common descriptors of Year 2 Teach First participants: ‘listen and learn’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘creative’, ‘hardworking’, ‘resilient’, ‘energetic’ and ‘adaptive’. The report also found that Teach First participation by a school correlates positively with student achievement with a between-school variance in pupil performance at GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) of between 20% and 40%. In addition, the results indicated that the greater the number of Teach First teachers in the school, the better the school performed.
After the two years, will graduates stay in teaching?
In the UK around 65 percent of teachers stay in schools for a third year, while the retention rate in teaching over the ten years the programme has now been running is around 55 percent. These retention rates are comparable to traditional teaching pathways. Furthermore, around two-thirds of alumni still work in wider education. For graduates who may choose to leave after the two years, the Teach First programme enables them to gain a greater understanding of what teaching – particularly teaching in a school facing challenging circumstances – and educational inequality actually look like.
Teach First NZ does not judge its success based on post-programme retention alone, and our aims reach beyond teacher education and retention in schools. In order to truly work towards our vision, we need leaders across all fields to influence those many factors beyond the control of a school that significantly impact upon educational outcomes. We therefore plan to support our alumni to remain engaged with education – whatever field they ultimately end up working in beyond the two years. While many will stay in schools, others will go on to work in wider education or business, mentoring students, or becoming school trustees. Crucially, they take with them a firsthand understanding of the realities of their schools.