“Calling all teachers! Please help, I’m going mad!!”

Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of immigrants’ experiences of New Zealand, taken from places around the net.

This tale was taken from a British expats immigration forum, it’s the story of a fully qualified British teacher who has been living  in Napier, New Zealand, since August 2010.

Her story highlights some very common issues for Western migrants in NZ – difficulties finding work (often because overseas qualifications/experience aren’t recognised by professional bodies in NZ) poor quality living accommodation and feelings of isolation.

Some migrants find ways to overcome these problems, but many don’t. These are some of the reasons why so many leave New Zealand and don’t settle.

13 Oct
I’ve been in the country for nearly 2 months and haven’t had any success (finding a teaching job) either!
The new year starts in January and jobs are starting to slowly trickle through.

The main feedback I have had is the lack of NZ experience, there does seem to be an underlying current of being useasy about giving someone a job who might leave the country. I now express I have PR in applications.

24 Oct
I can’t believe it has been 2 months since we landed here! It seems like a blink of an eye and a lifetime all at once.

After a lovely holiday in Vegas (and a sizeable win on the bandits!!) we arrived in Napier, we were met by a collegue of my husbands, who brought us to the house we had rented through Trademe.

The house was cold, empty and smelt a bit. After a quick trip to the warehouse to buy some heaters we ate cheap pot noodles and wondered what the hell we had done.
After a 12 hour sleep we explored Napier, both with an odd feeling of despair. Going from Leeds to Napier in the Winter was such a shock as there was noone there! Going to the busy farmers market at the weekend was the highlight of my week!!

We bought a car a few days after arriving here and then had a 6 hour drive to Auckland to collect the dog. Having ***** here really made me feel settled and gave me something to do during the day. Two weeks later, my husband went to work leaving me on my own. I had nothing to do and was going to panic a bit, but luckily that day the container arrived. I have never been so happy to unwrap cutlery.

I still haven’t found a job, but I’m volunteering at a school which is helping my confidence and experience with the NZ curriculum. It also helps me to meet people and give me some connection to people other than my OH. It’s all looking up at the moment. My house is still cold, but now I have my furniture it feels like home.

I miss my family and friends, but the feeling comes in waves and seems to pass quickly enough.

8 Nov
Calling all teachers! Please help, I’m going mad…
After completing my PGCE and teaching for 2 years in the UK, passing my induction with flying colours etc… I thought I would be ok to teach over here. Turns out that I’m not… NZ teaching council say that I have to complete 2 years mentoring here (which to me makes me an NQT again).

After lots of heading banging, if I can prove I have had a years induction I only have to be supervised for 1 more year. This seems utterly ridiculous, especially as I had responsibilty at my last school.

I just feel like giving up on teaching over here, which is my worst nightmare as I love teaching, but this and the fact that I can’t seem to get a job makes me want to go back to England, at least I know what I’m up against and my name is known over there.

Sorry for the moan and if anyone else has had any experience of how I’m doing it all wrong, please let me know.

Response from another member of the forum:

As a recent PCGE with only 2 years I would consider you a fairly new teacher, and in addition you move to a new country with a different curriculum so you can hardly expect to be put in charge of a classroom right away. This sounds like good practice to me. No doubt your love of teaching will shine through and your career will go well, but give them a chance to find out what you are made of. Just because the UK think you can teach doesn’t mean New Zealand does. I have a UK PGCE and 15 years teaching and I’m not qualified to teach in NZ either. Fortunately I have no desire to.

I realise you probably want to vent. Just knuckle down and do it and you will find the time whizzes by quickly. Just a word of warning. You might find NZ teachers are not that interested in how it’s done in the UK. Won’t make you friends in the staff room.

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One thought on ““Calling all teachers! Please help, I’m going mad!!”

  1. Consider yourself lucky that you’re not teaching. You have so far only scratched the surface of the problems with New Zealand education. The suggestion that you undergo a year of supervised training isn’t that bad. New Zealand has, to me, a strange and perverse school system, so it’s unlikely that your experiences in the UK will be directly relevant. I’ve never taught anywhere else, so it’s difficult for me to judge what it would be like coming here as a fully-qualified teacher. I did my teacher training here and still found the system bizarre at times. However, I wasn’t really concerned about that — I figured that if New Zealand wants to use the NCEA system, I didn’t really care: I’d teach that. It was the behaviour problems in schools and the lack of support for teachers that drove me out of the profession. You can read my book if you want details. Good luck.

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