Teacher Shortage in New Zealand

Teaching in New Zealand

Annalise Whitlow explains the New Zealand education system and the opportunities currently available for Brits who would like to be teaching there

Teaching is a profession that can easily open the emigration door to New Zealand. The country is currently experiencing secondary school teaching shortages in a range of subjects, including: Technology, English, Mathematics and Science (particularly Physics and Chemistry). Qualified Early Childhood teachers are also in high demand.

If you are qualified then you may find teaching in New Zealand an attractive prospect. Teachers from the UK and Ireland tend to adapt extremely well to the schools and way of life in New Zealand as there are many similarities between the countries. The 2007 academic year has just kicked off in New Zealand. Schools are busy settling new students and teaching staff, some of whom have relocated from across the world.
The New Zealand education system isn't all that different from the UK, compulsory education starts at 6 years old (New Entrant) but lasts two years longer until the pupil is 18 years old (Year 13). There are two schooling systems: state and state integrated schools, and also private schools. The latter is fee funded whilst the government funds the former. Some secondary schools run from Year 7-13 and others offer education from Year 9-13. Primary schools run from New Entrants to either Year 6 or Year 8. New Zealand also has intermediate schools which teach Year 7 and Year 8 students.

Unlike the UK, there are not any schools that teach from 11-16 year olds, so senior teaching experience is a huge advantage when applying for teaching positions in New Zealand. School principals in New Zealand prefer international teachers to have a minimum of one or two years teaching experience in their own country, consolidating their training.

Teaching placements can be found in all parts of New Zealand, from the tip of the North Island (Kerikeri) to the bottom of the South Island (Invercargill) and also in a variety of schools including state, state integrated, religious affiliated and private (independent) schools. In the past, UK immigrants have successfully taken up a range of posts from assistant teachers, with no management responsibility, to Deputy Principal.

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, therefore has the largest number of secondary schools in the country. The city has a transit teaching population and offers the biggest variety of employment opportunities for teachers and their partners in other professions. Before being able to teach in New Zealand, overseas qualified teachers need to have their qualifications assessed by the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA). This is to ascertain a New Zealand equivalent qualification and will also be used to determine your starting place on the New Zealand teachers' pay scale, according to the Secondary Teachers Collective Agreement.

The NZQA assessment

An essential requirement in becoming registered as a teacher with the New Zealand Teachers Council, both the assessment and registration are required for immigration. These processes can take several months so it is advisable to begin with plenty of time in hand. "I would recommend that UK colleagues thinking of moving to New Zealand allow plenty of time for the move. We began the process in June to start teaching in January," says Graham Conlon, a Mathematics teacher, at Fielding High School, North Island. "This gave us plenty of time to sort out lots of other issues, selling houses etcetera," he adds. To work in New Zealand you can teach on a variety of visas including residency, work to residency, a work permit and a working holiday visa. Each visa has different requirements depending on your age, estimated length of stay in New Zealand and the type of teaching position you wish to secure.

Currently secondary schools in New Zealand are experiencing difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified and experienced Mathematics, Design Technology, Physics and Chemistry Science teachers for permanent teaching positions. Using a teacher recruitment agency can be a good way to search out and match yourself with positions in New Zealand. "Once I decided to come out to NZ to teach, I chose to use an agency as I was uncertain about the education system and the recruitment process in NZ," says Nicholas Brown, Head of Drama, Kerikeri High School, Bay of Islands. "It has a number of advantages, including the speed of finding a position and knowing that you are dealing with specialists • a company that is purely focused on education recruitment," adds Brown.

Agencies should be able to provide you with a good deal of detailed information on the different kind of schools, roles and areas of New Zealand. The Internet and Kiwi media can also be useful for research for those interested in teaching in New Zealand. To ensure that the move is successful you need to be happy in your work and home life. Agencies should use questioning and reference checking to determine what needs the teacher has surrounding their new life in New Zealand. They should be able to understand and relate to the different challenges and stresses involved in relocating overseas to live and teach.

Agencies will also be able to assist teachers in accessing the New Zealand government schemes that cover some relocation costs in moving to New Zealand for the first time to teach. These schemes are applicable when teachers secure a teaching position in a state or state integrated school within three months of arriving in New Zealand (other criteria also apply).

The lifestyle benefits to teaching in NZ are endless. It's a beautifully diverse country with sweeping beaches, bubbling mud pools and snow covered mountains, dotting the landscape. Whether you like sunbathing, hiking, kayaking or skiing, New Zealand has it all. New Zealand's climate is not too dissimilar to the UK's and many British immigrants find it just like home, but with the added bonus of the aforementioned benefits. Rebecca Shiel, who has recently taken up a position as an English Teacher at St Mark's Church School in Wellington, comments: "We have travelled, lived and worked in many countries • including the UK, France, Italy and Indonesia, but New Zealand is top in terms of beauty, natural environment and quality of life. "The quality and cost of living is much better here. Holidays are an endless adventure travelling the length and breadth of both islands sampling the outdoor playground is an odyssey of adventure. "What is on the doorstep here in terms of beaches, mountains, national parks and the associated activities are hard to beat anywhere in the world."

Rebecca continues: "I took a teaching post at St Mark's Church School, Wellington and it is a truly pleasant working environment with delightful students in a traditional but progressive education ethos. They gave me a very warm welcome and I had the benefit of starting my teaching contract prior to the actual start date to help orientate and settle before the start of the new school year." There are plenty of opportunities for Brits who are interested in teaching in New Zealand and the positions are just waiting tobe filled.

Give yourself plenty of time to research the different areas and to find a job that is best suited to your needs and requirements and there's no reason why you won't soon be able to swap British schools for their New Zealand equivalent!

Useful Links

New Zealand Teachers Council (Overseas Teachers)
Download your FREE emigration guide to New Zealand and Australia
More informaion from Emigrate2 on the New Zealand education system