Teacher education policy in New Zealand since 1970

Noeline Alcorn


How can New Zealand schools be provided with a sufficient supply of knowledgeable and skilled teachers at a reasonable cost? This question has shaped teacher education policy over decades but its interpretation and preferred solutions have varied markedly.

By 1970 three-year training for primary teachers was finally achieved and teachers colleges were striving to change their organisational patterns, move away from their image as extended secondary schools and become fully tertiary institutions. Colleges had also acquired their own councils, though important decisions in finance, numbers, curriculum and staffing were all made finally by the Department of Education. In 2012 most teacher education in New Zealand is carried out in university faculties of education offering early childhood, primary and secondary programmes and heavily involved in continuing professional education.

These significant developments have occurred against a backdrop of social and systemic change in New Zealand. In this paper I examine what issues have shaped educational policy in teacher education, what conflicting ideas have underpinned it, and which players have been pivotal. Key themes include (i) the scope, nature and preferred locus of teacher education; (ii) control, funding and quality assurance; and (iii) supply and demand for teachers.

The paper will examine policy documents, reports, critique, and systemic developments with a focus on the changing and often contradictory nature of concepts such as professionalism, accountability, student success, and teacher quality. 

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DOI: 10.15663/wje.v18i1.136


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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015