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What’s the issue?

What’s the issue?

In Aotearoa New Zealand, thousands of Kiwi kids are falling through the cracks of our education system each year. Here at Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu, we don’t think that’s fair.

The issue

In Aotearoa New Zealand, not every Kiwi kid gets the same chance. In fact, New Zealand has one of the highest levels of educational inequality in the developed world. While our education system is working well for many, thousands of students leave school every year without the most basic qualification (NCEA Level 2) necessary to secure employment or access further education.

A young person’s opportunities in life including their level of health, further education, employment and income all diminish because of this disadvantage.

When one person suffers this kind of disadvantage, that disadvantage stays with them over a lifetime, affecting their family, whānau, aiga, their community and ultimately New Zealand as a whole.

We are strongest as a country when we all have the opportunity to achieve our potential.

Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu is a not-for-profit equity initiative committed to tackling this issue. Our vision is that all young people in Aotearoa New Zealand achieve their full educational potential, regardless of their background.


"In my classroom, inequity is the most visible when it isn't. It shows when student's chairs remain empty for the day. In simple terms: the more a family struggle, the less often a student attends school. On a rainy Auckland morning, a jacket or a pair of closed shoes makes a world of a difference to whether a student will make it to school that day or not."

Jonas Kortner, Cohort 2015, Teaching Physics at One Tree Hill College


How we tackle this issue

We develop leaders in the classroom and beyond. To achieve the systemic change we need, we believe inspirational teachers and leaders are needed in schools, communities, businesses and government, who are all working towards creating a more equitable education system.

Developing leaders in the classroom

Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu recruits outstanding, well-rounded graduates and career-changing professionals to bring their expertise, energy and leadership into the classroom. These high calibre leaders are committed to working in secondary schools serving low-income communities for two years. During this time, they complete a teaching qualification and undertake leadership development. Teach First NZ participants teach in high-priority subject areas where they have the opportunity to impact their students, their school and their community as a whole.

Leading the way beyond the classroom

Long term, Teach First NZ develops the leadership capability of participants to build a powerful community of alumni who work in education and beyond. We support our high calibre individuals to have a continuously greater impact either in their classrooms, as school leaders, or by supporting them to take up other leadership roles in which they can continue to address educational inequality.