Raising the bar? Why the Minister's wrong
Minister Parata was reported in the Herald this morning saying that teachers have one of the lowest bars of entry of any profession, and promoting a shift to a post-grad qualification.
Putting aside the implied criticism of the current workforce, and the assumption that raising the level of qualification will increase the status and quality of teachers, her claim is simply wrong.
To look at what the entry requirements are in terms of qualifications, teachers, whether early childhood, primary or secondary, have to do an initial teacher education course that is at ‘graduate’ level on the qualifications framework, which is Level 7.
For most secondary teachers this means doing an undergraduate degree (Bachelors, level 7) and then a Graduate Diploma (also level 7).
How does this fit alongside other professions?
- Police – Certificate (level4) or Diploma (Level 5) qualification, which also come with a guarantee of paid employment if you complete
- Firefighters - Certificate (level 3)
- Nurses – Bachelor’s Degree (level 7)
- Social workers – Bachelor’s Degree (Level 7)
- Lawyers – Bachelor of Laws (Level 7) plus professional studies certificate (level 6)
- Airline pilots – Diploma in Aviation (level 5 or 6) or Bachelor of Aviation (Level 7)
- Accountants – Bachelor’s Degree (Level 7) plus Graduate Diploma in Chartered Accounting (Level 7)
- Civil Engineers – Bachelor’s degree with Honours (Level 8)
- Medical Doctors – Level 9 – but by the time medical doctors first are employed they only have a Level 7 qualification (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) which allows them to work as a supervised house officer in a hospital.
Looking at this list, moving initial teacher education to level 8 or 9 would in fact be putting us out of step with most comparable professions. Of course, what Parata isn't saying is that Civil Engineers and Medical Doctors salaries are also on a slightly different 'scale' from teachers. It's possible that in terms of status that's quite a big part of the picture...
That’s not to say moving to higher qualifications for entrance to teaching is necessarily a bad idea. There are pros and cons on both sides. One of the cons is that currently students studying Level 8 or above qualifications can’t get the student allowance. That would be a pretty big disincentive, and we already aren’t training enough people to fill the positions of secondary teachers that are leaving.
(Image - Graduates of Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand, 2006 by Jorge Royan is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)