University Of Tasmania
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Forgotten students, forgotten teachers: Positioning the middle years in New Zealand teacher education

posted on 2023-05-26, 04:10 authored by Shanks, B
For over a century the New Zealand education system has been defined by a bipartite organisation of schooling that is divided philosophically, pedagogically and structurally along primary and secondary lines. Initial teacher preparation and in-service professional development provision perpetuate this two-tiered division by providing programmes of teacher education in almost exclusively primary and secondary education. While the New Zealand education system has achieved many successes, concerns have been expressed in recent years about the variable quality of education young adolescent students in Years 7-10 experience in New Zealand schools. Current research shows that it is what teachers know and do in the classroom that is the most significant factor influencing student learning. In view of the concerns around the provision of effective middle level education, it is timely to place New Zealand teacher education under the lens. This research investigates how the middle years are catered for within initial and in-service teacher education across a number of key New Zealand institutions. Using qualitative methodology the study examines how, and to what extent middle level teachers are prepared through their primary or secondary programme of initial teacher education, and through in-service support, to meet the specialised needs of young adolescent students. The findings are informed, through an in- depth interview with an internationally recognised expert in middle level education, to ascertain the wider systemic factors influencing the uptake of specialised middle level teacher preparation in New Zealand. Additionally, comparative insights have been obtained from the perspectives of six international teacher educators involved in middle level teacher education programmes in Australia and the United States. The findings from this study have been synthesised to provide recommendations for the reform of New Zealand teacher education so that it is cognisant of the middle levels of schooling. It is hoped that these recommendations will inform future directions and will result in the learning pathway for Years 7-10 identified in the current New Zealand curriculum, becoming a reality.


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