Back to top
Information for schools

Information for schools

Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu and our tertiary provider work in partnership with schools to develop teachers.

Our participants

-  Teach First NZ participants commit to teaching for at least two years in secondary schools serving lower decile communities, where they focus on raising the achievement, aspirations, and access to educational opportunity of their students

-  Candidates must pass a rigorous selection process, which identifies those individuals with the potential to become highly effective teachers and inspirational leaders

-  Successful candidates complete an intensive teacher education programme delivered over two years

-  An extensive support network of experienced teachers, teacher educators, and leadership coaches guides participants throughout the programme

Teach First NZ is committed to attracting outstanding graduates and professionals into teaching in schools serving lower decile communities. Our participants come from a wide-range of disciplines and backgrounds. They are well-rounded, passionate, high-achieving individuals who have the academic track-record, leadership experience, communication skills, and empathy to become effective teachers in the classroom. The combination of a rigorous selection process, quality teacher education, and sustained support structures enables participants to succeed in schools.

If there is one thing all of our participants have, it's career options – be it in business, law, engineering, government or the community sector. Yet each participant has instead made a decision to pursue a different path, recognising the great opportunity that teaching provides to have a direct impact on the life trajectories of young New Zealanders.

Teach First NZ participants share a fundamental belief that all children can achieve at high levels. They are hungry to learn and to work alongside their more experienced colleagues in schools, contributing to a vision to which we all aspire.

“I’m excited by the possibilities that Teach First NZ brings to education in both the short and long-term.”
Soana Pamaka, Principal, Tamaki College, Auckland

Participant selection

All our participants commit to teaching in a secondary school for a minimum of two years, and they are willing to be placed in any school according to need.

Participants add to the richness and diversity of the school workforce, and strive to enable their students to expand their full potential. Our participants are selected for qualities that will help them succeed in the classroom and in the wider school community.



The Teach First NZ recruitment and selection model is one of the cornerstones of the programme. Overall, just 7% of all applicants to the programme secure a place.

We have developed a highly rigorous selection process based around a stringent set of criteria, designed to ensure that each aspiring applicant has the qualities to succeed. Applicants must have attained strong grades in their undergraduate degree, and must also demonstrate a high proficiency in each of the following ten competencies (in addition to cultural awareness):

-  Achievement
-  Leadership
-  Perseverance and resilience
-  Influencing and motivating
-  Humility, respect and empathy
-  Organisation and planning
-  Problem solving
-  Self-reflection
-  Flexibility
-  Commitment to our mission

The selection process involves an extensive online application form, phone interview, followed by a full assessment day, which includes interviews, self-reflection exercises, group role plays, and sample teaching lessons.

Principals, teacher representatives and Teach First NZ staff and representatives are all involved in the selection of applicants.

Those selected as participants must then complete the enrolment process, which involves a full subject knowledge review and reference check. Applicants must also meet all course entry requirements.

Participants also undertake a short school observation experience, before formally commencing the Summer Initial Intensive beginning in mid-November.

For full selection details see Recruitment and Selection.

"The selection process for the 2013 cohort was thorough and exacting. All those who had been involved in selection saw it as a key strength of the programme. Participants reported that they had found the selection process “thorough”, “rigorous”, and “intense”, and were impressed with the professionalism of staff and the effort to seek out capable candidates with the best potential."
NZCER Report 2013


Initial teacher education

The success of the programme is not just about the quality of the candidates – the underlying pedagogical and leadership development on which the programme is built ensures that participants are well equipped to have the impact in the classroom that schools look for.

Our participants know that what lies ahead for them will be as challenging as it is rewarding. Each participant becomes part of an extensive support network of experienced teachers, teacher educators, leadership coaches and peers, to ensure they are effectively supported over the two years.

Throughout the programme, as they teach on a reduced class load, participants work towards a postgraduate qualifacation. This qualification represents a new vision for teacher education that embraces an applied clinical practice model, combining postgraduate study and experience in schools with an extended two-year teaching placement.

Participants begin their journey with an eight-week residential Summer Initial Intensive. The programme continues with rigorous supervision, in-school mentoring, professional and leadership development over the full two years of teaching. This includes study through a combination of on-campus blocks including lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops (all outside school term time), individual reflection and journal writing, and self-paced distance study.

A Visiting Specialist provides for each participant the key links between theory, research, coursework and practice, as well as ongoing support through regular visits to participants in schools – approximately every 2-3 weeks. Visiting Specialists support the development of participants' professional practice in the classroom, and work with In-school Mentors to ensure a coordinated programme of support.

The programme is positioned as a new and complementary pathway into teaching, and aims to attract those who may otherwise not have applied to teacher training. While the programme uses an innovative and research-proven employment/school/field based teacher education model, it does not replace traditional pathways into the profession.


In-school Mentors

The benefits of Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu don’t just extend to participants and the students they teach; through work with In-school Mentors, the programme contributes to a culture of leadership and professional development within schools.

As part of our commitment to ensure participants are placed in supportive school environments, an In-school Mentor is selected for each participant. The mentor will have the skills to support the participant on a day-to-day basis, as well as the willingness to engage in professional learning themselves.

In-school Mentors provide support, observation and feedback, assistance with planning, and assessment of classroom delivery. They also support participants to integrate into the life of the school and the local community.

Mentors receive training, including an optional credit-bearing course, which is designed to support their work as pedagogical coaches. The Mentor also works closely with the Visiting Specialist to support and develop the participant together.

Schools are able to receive funding support from the Ministry of Education to enable the time release of In-school Mentors.


School eligibility

Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu partners with secondary schools serving lower decile communities. The programme is currently available to schools in Auckland and Northland, however in the future we aim to extend the programme's availability to other regions.

We work closely with schools to ensure:

  1. Eligibility – Only those schools serving communities that fit our decile criteria (1-5) are eligible.
  2. Potential for impact – Schools must provide an environment that will enable participants to develop as effective teachers and make an impact.
  3. Capacity to support participants – Schools must be able to adequately support our participants during their time on the programme.
  4. Capacity to support the programme – We prioritise schools that can employ at least two participants at any one time, to enhance peer support for participants. Schools must also be prepared to release participants for an agreed number of weeks in order to complete their ‘away school’ practicum requirement.


"They are truly model teachers and have inspired others with their energy, enthusiasm, dedication, positive attitude and patience to our students. All of this has resulted in better outcomes for our students, which is, after all, our goal."
Soana Pamaka, Principal of Tamaki College

Participants apply to vacancies in schools as advertised in the Education Gazette.

With the support of the principal, participants apply to the Education Council for ‘Limited Authority to Teach’ (LAT) status.

As with all teachers, the school’s Board of Trustees acts as the employer. Participants are remunerated based on the 'untrained' teachers salary scale in the Secondary Teachers’ Collective Agreement.

Participants teach on a reduced workload to enable them to complete their studies and receive support from their In-school Mentor and Visiting Specialist. Schools are able to receive funding from the Ministry of Education to enable the time release of participants and their In-school Mentor.


After the two years

Our participants share a lifelong ambition to be actively involved in the education community, wherever life may take them.

At the completion of their two-year placement, participants become eligible to apply for registration and provisional teacher certification from the Education Council. Many will stay on in the classroom as teachers and ultimately progress to lead teacher, middle and senior leadership positions, while others will pursue leadership roles in wider education or other fields.

As Teach First NZ alumni, they will become part of a group of leaders who are competent, passionate and socially aware, and who will remain connected with the mission of improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged New Zealanders. Our alumni programme ensures all participants stay connected to education, so that they can continue to make an impact from both inside the classroom and beyond.




The opportunity

The Teach First NZ participants give our school a fresh perspective on the latest developments of teaching and learning. These young teachers brought a different dimension to staff and students that may not have been known before.  It just gives a better variety and balance to our teaching staff. They are an impetus and injection of enthusiasm that we value very highly. 
Peter Uys, Principal of Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate

Participating in the Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu programme offers principals the opportunity to further develop connections across educational policy, school leadership and academic delivery, and to make an exciting contribution to the education conversation in New Zealand.

From participating in selection days and attending networking events, to speaking on leadership panels, our partnering principals and their staff teams have access to a number of opportunities through which they can contribute toward furthering a culture of leadership and innovation in our programme. Indeed we deeply value the community of Teach First NZ principals, and regularly seek their guidance on how to tailor and improve the programme to suit their needs.

If you are interested in partnering with Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu please email [email protected]