Migrant Tales – Teaching in New Zealand and the NCEA

NZ is not easy for immigrant teachers

Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales, first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand taken from locations around the net.

Today’s tale was first published on an emigration forum.

The author is an expat living in the South Island, and tells of the difficulties that immigrant teachers have securing employment. The impending redundancies of staff in Christchurch Schools is making an already bad situation worse.

If you are intending to emigrate to New Zealand to take up a teaching position you may find the following information, especially the catch-22 situation of provisional registration, useful.

If you are a parent, or student seeking an NZ education, you may find the comments about the high-school qualification NCEA of interest and wish to investigate this further for yourself.

Hi I have been in NZ for 3 years and just thought I would share my teaching experiences here in NZ.

Basics: UK qualifications accepted and assessed at top of Primary salary scale.

I have had a few short term contracts but most of the time it is relief work for me. Living in the South so very difficult to secure permanent contract with so many teaching jobs lost last December and it looks like many more will go in Christchurch area over the next few months. Some school roles have dropped by 25% or more. Teachers who loose their job will be offered 30 weeks paid work while they find alternative
employment or they can choose to retrain and be paid for up to 30 – 40 weeks. (They must foot the cost of their course).

It is difficult to get permanent work in the South and many BOTs (ed. Boards of Trustees) are only considering NZ qualified. I have applied for 57 positions – no interviews!

I was a Deputy Head in the UK and I knew my income would drop in NZ – I was also prepared to step down the ladder. I have found that being well qualified and experienced can be a real set back here in NZ.

Two comments that have been made in staff rooms in my presence:

UK teachers don’t understand NZ kids”

“We don’t need overqualified poms here”

All taken on the chin as I have worked with some really good NZ teachers and I try to keep it in context.

I have worked in some good schools here in NZ and some that have worried  me. Professional standards (Primary / Early Years) in general are not the same as in the UK so it can be frustrating but I have learned to be
more selective in my relief work and I am working with a few good schools / ECEs.

I have also been caught like many others in the catch 22 position of provisional – full registration. So even after 3 years I have been unable to secure full registration, at least it has not related to my salary and I get the full $70877

Taking a course in Te Reo helps you to fit in too.

I will be returning to the UK in Jan 2013 as I have secured a Deputy position which has given me hope. I have had real low professional self esteem and moral for the past 18 months. I have enjoyed the experience of living and working in NZ but it is time to move on.

I have found that Education has its positives and negatives here just like the UK. I have no evidence that one system is better than the other  but the statistics that place NZ in 7th place on the OCED list for education are a bit suspect when you take the following into account Governments provide the data to OCED)

NCEA assessment scandal revealed

Monday, 13 June 2011, 4:56 pm

Press Release: North and South magazine

Media release

13 June 2011

NCEA assessment scandal revealed

NCEA markers and moderators are being told to “fudge the figures” for the Minister of Education, a shocked insider reveals in the July issue of North & South.

The message to moderators was clear, says the veteran teacher and marker: fudge the figures or risk losing your jobs – and risk exposing massive flaws and unfairness in the way grades are awarded to students on their NCEA internal assessments.

Scaling, cheating and manipulating marks… writer Deborah Coddington uncovers another sorry chapter in New Zealand’s troubled NCEA examination and internal assessment system.

What I have learnt is that nothing is as good as it seems!

If you considering teaching here in NZ do your homework. North Island is probably your best option.



4 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – Teaching in New Zealand and the NCEA

  1. You know that 1) is not the case, so that only leaves 2).
    We’ve always homeschooled, and I’m glad we have. I can’t fathom having our children going through the public school system here.
    There was the debate recently about class size, with the teachers union saying that the quality of education would go down with the increase of students per class. This is false information! There have been a number of studies indicating that quality of instruction is of more importance than the pupil/teacher ratio. Once again, mediocrity wins out.

  2. This is completely consistent with my experience. I’ve discovered since leaving the profession (read my book: “Bring Me the Head of the NCEA!” for the whole nightmare) that an enormous number of New Zealanders have abandoned public education for private schools. Here in Auckland, there may actually be more private schools than public (I don’t know if that’s true — it’s just an impression I get from the large number of private schools). I’ve certainly never lived anywhere else where such a high percentage of families put their kids into private schools. That would lead me to the hypothesis that either 1) New Zealanders are incredibly wealthy, or 2) New Zealand public schools are incredibly bad.

  3. I was a volunteer in a North Island school. I know a few relieving teachers and other volunteers. Both expat and Kiwi. I can reassure you that they fudge the figures up here too.

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