Technology teacher numbers boosted by new University of Canterbury entry system

03 May 2022

There has been a dramatic upswing in the number of students training to become technology teachers at the University of Canterbury after a new entry system launched this year.

  • Technology teacher numbers boosted by new University of Canterbury entry system

    University of Canterbury students (back row from left) Gareth Wynne, Peter Le bon, Andrea Eves Corey Townsend and Josh Pendreigh. Front row from left are Eamon Maze, Lara Stunzner, Nathalie Lacaze Campbell and Ben Bisley. All have been accepted into the Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning (Secondary) under a new entry pathway allowing people without a degree to become qualified technology teachers.

Lara Stunzer

University of Canterbury student Lara Stunzner

Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) has responded to a nationwide shortage of technology and te reo teachers by piloting an Alternative Entry Pathway (AEP) for high quality applicants in these subjects.

People with at least five years of relevant work experience in technology or te reo and an aptitude for teaching can be accepted into the Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Secondary) without the usual academic requirement of an undergraduate degree.

The new entry pathway has led to a big rise in the number of students training to become technology teachers.

Ten technology teacher trainees are studying at UC this year after being accepted under the new criteria, bringing the total number of student technology teachers to 21, more than three times last year’s total of six.

There are also two students studying to become secondary school te reo teachers this year who have enrolled through the AEP.

UC Faculty of Education Lecturer and Technology Course Co-ordinator Ceri de Boo says there is a huge shortage of technology teachers – including materials, food, design and visual communication (including product design) and digital technology - in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“Last year there were about 93 people working with Limited Authority to Teach in technology spaces around the country, meaning they don’t have a teaching qualification, because the school couldn’t fill the position with a qualified technology teacher,” she says.

“I feel very passionate about the importance of training more technology teachers. We wanted to make that happen for people who might not normally be able to take on study at this stage of their lives, and who need some flexibility and support to be able to do that.

“Most of our students this year have between five and 20 years of work experience, they’re mostly people in their mid-40s who want to become teachers as a career change. Some of them have been involved in sport coaching or they’ve worked extensively with apprentices and now want to work with secondary students,” de Boo says.

UC is making sure students are given support in order to succeed in the programme.

“We’ve put systems in place to help people coming through under the new entry pathway because we want them to achieve, gain their qualification and become effective classroom teachers in schools around the country,” de Boo says.

She has a weekly online meeting with the students to find out how they’re going and offer support, which she says is part of UC’s whanaungatanga value - looking after and working alongside people.

“Many of them are working and have families and they’re studying part-time so we need to take a holistic approach for each individual.”

Feedback from the students so far has been positive. “Lots of them are saying they’re really enjoying the chance to learn how to translate their skills and what they already know into the classroom setting. It’s challenging them in really great ways.”

De Boo says secondary schools are very positive about the new pathway because they are acutely aware of the challenges of recruiting qualified technology teachers. UC has also been working closely with the New Zealand Graphics and Technology Teachers of New Zealand (NZGTTA).

University of Canterbury Education Faculty Senior Lecturer Te Hurinui Karaka-Clarke says the new entry system is a “great initiative” and a positive step towards addressing the need for more te reo Māori secondary teachers.

“We are currently the only university offering entry to a Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning without requiring an undergraduate degree. However, we do plan to tweak the pre-entry academic requirements to make the course even more accessible and boost the number of people training to teach te reo Māori.

“I think there’s a fear of the unknown for people who haven’t experienced university life before and they don’t know what to expect,” he says.    

To better accommodate the needs of students using the alternative entry pathway, UC School of Education is offering the technology and te reo teaching qualifications by distance learning as well as in person. Students for these two subject areas also have the option to complete the graduate diploma either by studying for one year full-time or two years part-time.

New entry system for technology teachers is a recipe for success

Having over 25 years of work and life experience is a huge benefit when it comes to teaching teenagers, says University of Canterbury (UC) student Lara Stunzner.

She is one of 10 people accepted into the UC Graduate Diploma of Teaching and Learning (Secondary) through an “Alternative Entry Pathway” being piloted for technology teachers at the University this year.

Qualified technology teachers are in short supply around the country, so the UC Faculty of Education has invited people with relevant experience and aptitude to apply for the diploma course without the usual requirement of a bachelor’s degree.

The new criteria meant Stunzner’s 25 years working in New Zealand and the United Kingdom as a chef – including working at Michelin star restaurants and in film and TV catering - and her voluntary work for Camp Quality, a charity for children with cancer, was recognised and has enabled her to begin studying to become a qualified secondary school food technology teacher.

She is a part-time student at UC while working full-time at Mt Albert Grammar in Auckland. A “limited authority to teach” allows her to teach food technology even though she isn’t fully qualified yet.

She says she is “loving” the University of Canterbury course so far. “Some of it is reinforcing that what I do is correct. Food technology has changed a lot since I learned cooking at school. Everybody seems to be enjoying it, but it has been full-on.”

Having her background and work experience recognised by UC rather than needing a bachelor’s degree to apply, was a major drawcard. “I can imagine for many people who have had working careers and have a lot of skill and knowledge that having to get a degree puts them off making the transition into teaching.

“Being able to study for one or two years and have your diploma, rather than four years if you don’t already have a degree, is a big deal. I also think with so much work and life experience behind us, we have a lot to offer as teachers.” 

Stunzner’s longer-term goal is to become a Head of Department and she says teaching makes her feel “part of the community”.  “I know that when I’m finished studying, I am going to make a difference.”

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