On-the-job teacher training has been given a boost, as the Government looks for ways to increase teacher numbers.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced a new programme will offer 240 trainee teachers the chance to earn while they learn.

A new employment-based programme will have 80 secondary school teacher trainee places each year from 2021, over four years. The first cohort will likely graduate at the end of 2022.

“We know on-the-job training is an attractive option for those wanting a career change and for many university graduates as well,” Hipkins said.

“School leaders have been keen to support teachers to learn on-the-job, meeting immediate supply needs while students learn.”

He said a “rapid growth” in secondary school-aged students was predicted in the coming years.

“That’s why this initiative is aimed at boosting staff numbers in secondary schools around the country, including a focus on attracting teachers who speak te reo Māori.”

TeachFirst NZ is the only employment-based initial teacher education programme currently available.

“While it’s an extremely popular and successful programme, we want to develop other new and innovative programmes to give teacher trainees more options,” Hipkins said.

TeachFirst NZ chief executive Jay Allnutt said a new programme would help increase the pathways into teaching.

“Employment-based training makes it more accessible, and more attractive, to people that may otherwise not have trained.”

He said collaboration would be important in the development of a new programme.

“That is everyone’s aim. We all want to make sure we have great teachers for our tamariki.”

The new programme could draw on the best practices from employment-based and university-based training both here in Aotearoa and overseas, he said.

New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) chief executive Jack Boyle was out of the country, but said in a written statement it was pleased teacher supply was being taken seriously.

The association was “particularly interested” in funding for the development of more employment-based training, he said.

“PPTA has reservations about employment-based models for a number of reasons, one being that it risks de-professionalising the teaching profession as it does not acknowledge the complexity and depth of knowledge required to address the learning needs of our students.”

Employment-based models did not expose trainee teachers to the “depth of research and knowledge to enable them to develop a sound education philosophy,” he said.

New Zealand Council of Deans of Education chair Letitia Fickel said the additional funding was a “wonderful recognition” of the investment needed.

“At the same time, we are cautious about models that may undermine the critical need for new teachers to understand and use research-informed practices in order to ensure our children are receiving the equitable education they deserve to be successful in today’s increasingly complex society.”

She said teaching was a “complex” profession.

“Countries with the most successful education systems recognise this and have therefore increased the supported and guided learning time prior to entry into the profession.”

However, she said the pilot programme had demonstrated its ability to produce high quality teachers.

The council’s experience with the pilot had shown the “vital importance” of close working partnerships between the universities and schools, and with iwi and hapū, in the design and delivery of teacher education programmes, she said.

The Ministry will hold information sessions with key stakeholders in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch over the next month.



  1. Hello, I am Juan Carlos Penn. I am teaching Digital Technology on a LAT and would like to do my training while I am working.

    I am enjoying teaching and I would like to make a difference for future generations. I am 22 years old and done a few tertiary papers but do not have any formal qualifications.

    Next year I would like to carry on teaching but studying as well. Please help me


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