KATE RUSSELL talks about what to expect teaching toddlers in other countries.

As a young early childhood educator eager to explore the world, I have been curious to know what teaching opportunities lie offshore.

This is no easy task. The differences in early childhood education programmes and teaching qualifications globally are huge.

The first step is to decide where you want to live and teach. You need to consider language barriers and what you want out of your job. Whether it’s new challenges and experiences, familiar education systems, good money, or being close to great holiday destinations, there is an option out there for everyone.

Australia is a popular destination for New Zealand early childhood teachers, mainly because it’s geographically close. Job prospects are good, the pay is tempting, and most New Zealand early childhood qualifications are recognised. There are a large number of New Zealand-trained early childhood teachers working over the ditch. Australia also has similar pedagogical approaches to New Zealand so it is relatively easy to slot into their system.

Most New Zealand early childhood degrees and diplomas are recognised in Australia but New Zealand teachers must get their qualifications verified by the Australian Early Childhood Association to prove the qualification is of the same standard. New Zealand and Australia’s teacher training programmes are similar, so it’s a reasonably straightforward process.

In Australia, teachers don’t need to have registration to work as an early childhood teacher – this is only required if you want to work in primary schools. Teachers are also required to have anaphylaxis training, first aid training, a national police check, and a Working With Children check.

The United Kingdom is another workable destination for New Zealand early childhood educators. Here, primary school teachers are trained to teach children aged three to 11, which covers preschool, reception and key stages one and two.

Early years providers and schools follow a structure of learning, development and care for children from birth to five years old called the early years foundation stage. Early years teachers teach all areas of the foundation stage, which is focused on helping children achieve early learning goals.

Any teacher who holds a degree-level teaching qualification from New Zealand is normally entitled to teach in the United Kingdom for up to four years. After this period teachers are required to have their qualifications assessed and transferred to gain what is known as qualified teacher status.

It is also a good idea to go directly to employers to ask them if your qualification is viable. If you want to teach long-term in the United Kingdom, schools usually require at least 12 months teaching experience from your home country. However if you don’t have this, you can start out by doing day-to-day relieving work.

The United States has a very different early childhood education structure to New Zealand. Pre-kindergarten programmes (also known as PreK) cater for children aged three to five to help them prepare for kindergarten, which begins at age five or six. In the United States, kindergarten is considered the first year of formal education, and is fully incorporated into the school system.

Job prospects in the United States are good. There is a growing demand for teachers and job openings for early childhood teachers are expected to grow much faster than most other careers through the year 2014.

New Zealand early childhood teachers who want to teach in a state-funded pre-kindergarten programme in the United States are typically required to have a university degree in early childhood or a related field. If you choose to work with children that are younger (in day care or childcare centres), a full degree is not needed.

In summary, if you are an early childhood teacher thinking about teaching offshore, you won’t be stuck for work. New Zealand teacher training courses adequately prepare students for teaching abroad, and the more experience you have, the better equipped you will be to teach anywhere.

Pay scales here & there

The average salary for a new early childhood graduate in New Zealand is between $44,000 and $46,500. Here, early childhood education unions have been able to get a good pay deal for teachers. Kindergarten teachers and childcare workers on consenting parties agreements for example, get pay parity with primary school teachers.

In 2009 the median weekly earnings for preschool and kindergarten teachers in the United States was US$612 a week (NZ$899). That‘s an annual salary of around US$31,824 (NZ$46,784).

The average wage for an early childhood teacher in Australia is AUD962 a week (NZ$1196). That’s an annual salary of AUD50,000 (NZ$62,000).

In the United Kingdom, a newly qualified teacher earns around £20,627 a year (NZ$43,635) and an experienced teacher can earn £35,929 (NZ$76,00) on the upper pay scale.

Five good reasons to teach abroad

  1. New Zealand early childhood education is highly regarded worldwide, especially in Europe, where Kiwi teachers are sought after.
  2. In most cases, no retraining is necessary for New Zealand teachers who want to work abroad.
  3. Teaching abroad is a good way to gain new challenges and experiences in teaching.
  4. No matter where you choose to go, there are always plenty of jobs in early childhood education.
  5. You get to travel to new and exciting destinations.

Teaching and travelling

Teachers hoping to follow their vocation offshore face the vagaries of qualification recognition in any country they choose to live in.

Those successfully completing an approved teacher education qualification in New Zealand would have met the graduating teacher standards and gained an academic award for their initial teacher education studies.

How this award is recognised in different countries can depend on whether there is a registration body such as the NZ Teachers Council and/or a competent authority such as NZQA that works with other governments to achieve international recognition of New Zealand’s qualifications and whose role it is to authenticate and assess for comparability of academic awards.

Between most states and territories of Australia and New Zealand the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Agreement operates a recognition application process for teachers with a current practising certificate, enabling them to be considered for registration and employed in a teaching position.

The registered teacher criteria describe the criteria for quality teaching and are the standards for teacher registration in New Zealand. Some other countries have their own registration standards with similar criteria and may be used in a similar way.

The registered teacher criteria also describe what beginning teachers need to work towards in order to gain full registration, and what experienced teachers need to demonstrate at appropriate levels of expertise in order to maintain a practising certificate.

New Zealand registered teachers employed overseas in a teaching position can not use their overseas teaching service to gain or maintain full registration in New Zealand.

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