Dismay at cutting of teacher courses

College of Education students Siale Tunoka (left) and Shannon Williams are concerned about two teaching programmes being cut. Photo by Craig Baxter. Potentially ''incredible'' teachers could be put off taking up the profession because of the University of Otago's decision to cut teacher training programmes, students say.

This comment came after students and staff were informed the College of Education was cutting two of its programmes next year, including its one-year graduate diploma, in which 96 students had enrolled this year.

Two class representatives from the one-year graduate diploma, Shannon Williams and Siale Tunoka, both feared cutting their course would result in a less diverse range of teachers.

''In reality, the ones who are going to miss out are the kids,'' Mr Williams said.

The one-year course was perfect for mature students, some of whom would not be able to make it into the master's programme, which requires a B-plus average in the student's final year of study.

''You look at our class, we are really diverse - we have got people from the arts, sciences, from all over.''

''Many of us have studied, then gone out to the workplace, and then decided that what we want to do is teaching.''

Mr Tunoka felt bad for the programme's staff, who now faced the prospect of losing their jobs.

''It feels like from our time here ... that this is like their baby. They have seen it through to what it is,'' he said.

The pair were keen to point out that many students who were offered places in the master's programme - themselves included - had chosen to take the diploma because of its good reputation. Otago Secondary Principals' Association secretary Gordon Wilson said the association did not know all of the details yet, and he was cautious with his response.

However, even at this stage there were some obvious concerns. While ''axing'' the courses effectively raised the entry-level requirement, and would bring teachers into the profession with a higher academic capability, ''there is a risk in cutting some of the other programmes, that some very good people who could move into teaching may miss out because programmes for them may not be available locally.''

Otago Primary Principals' Association chairwoman Stephanie Madden agreed. She said people came into teaching from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, and at different times in their lives.

''Schools value this diversity. It is vital that initial teacher education programmes offer multiple pathways into the profession.''

Mr Wilson also hoped the course cuts would not result in a decrease in the number of trainees.

''[If] the number of potential graduates coming out of the University of Otago College of Education drops, then that would be a concern because it's a very good pool of graduates for our schools in Otago and Southland.''


I was one of those teachers

Agreed. I was also one of those teachers who trained in the '90s to deal with the 'bulge' of pupils coming through from primary school. The bulge passed and jobs dried up. Anecdotally, I believe that fewer that half of those training now are finding permanent jobs.

It is very expensive to pay back a student loan for a course where the only benefit is to keep university lecturers in jobs.

A good idea out of the College of Education!

I'm in the same boat at blackbird - and so are many of my former classmates.  I've also never stepped foot into a classroom after finishing the graduate degree.  I often joke about using the degree as a placemat at the dinner table, because that's all it's worth to me.

The teaching market is completely saturated with teachers. I'm sorry about the loss of jobs that might occur at the College by closing the programme, but then again, there is no need for a graduate programme that churns out people who have pretty much zero prospects of getting work.  

Massive oversupply of teachers

I did a teacher training course in the nineties. It soon became apparent that there aren't nearly enough jobs to go around and that doing these sorts of courses is just wasting everybody's time. I never set foot in a classroom after grauating from the College of Education and many of my classmates were in exactly the same boat. My teaching diploma went straight into a dark drawer in my desk where it remains to this day.

It's no secret that there are far too many teacher training programs turning out far more graduates than the market can possibly absorb. Cutting these courses is long overdue. There is no point in continuing to run them except keeping college staff in jobs turning out graduates nobody wants.