The most important component of any system of school education is its teachers. But, New Zealand’s teacher education programmes do not ensure that new teachers are well prepared for the classroom. New Zealand’s Teachers Colleges were merged with universities during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The aim was to improve the professional standing of teachers. But the current university model of teacher education has six serious flaws:
• An overly sociocultural philosophy of teaching,
• Insufficient focus on the science of learning,
• Too little practical classroom experience for teachers-in-training,
• Inconsistency in the quality of mentoring for teachers in training,
• No rigorous assessment of new teachers for classroom readiness,
• Poor preparation of primary teachers to teach across the curriculum, especially in mathematics and science.
At the heart of these deficiencies lie the Standards for the Teaching Profession. All teachers must be assessed as meeting these standards to be able to practice lawfully. Teacher education programmes must put their graduates on track to meet the Standards after two years of classroom practice. In this way, they are influential on teacher education.