Part 2: Training prospective teachers

Institutional arrangements for training, registering, and appraising teachers.

What is initial teacher education?

ITE is the period of time spent by a student gaining their teaching qualification. The qualification is endorsed in a sector specialisation (early childhood, primary school, secondary school teaching, or Māori-medium kura teaching).

ITE providers (providers) in New Zealand are universities, polytechnics, institutes of technology, wānanga, and private training establishments.

The role of the New Zealand Teachers Council

The Council is responsible for setting the standards for teacher registration, and also for establishing and maintaining the standards for qualifications that lead to teacher registration. This combination of functions is designed to ensure that teacher training courses that result in teacher registration meet professional requirements. The Graduating Teacher Standards set out the Council's standards for graduating teachers.

To help the institutions that produce and provide ITE, the Council has a formal set of requirements for ITE Programmes. Depending on whether the provider is a university or other training provider, either the Universities New Zealand Committee on University Academic Programmes (CUAP)2 or the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) must also approve the ITE programme to ensure that it meets appropriate academic standards.

Graduating Teacher Standards

In 2007, in consultation with teachers, who had sought more consistency in the quality of ITE graduates, the Council drew up Graduating Teacher Standards.

The Graduating Teacher Standards comprise seven standards and 29 indicators.

For the Council to approve an ITE programme, the provider must show that the programme keeps to the Graduating Teacher Standards. The Council reviews ITE programmes every six years.

Requirements for initial teacher education programmes

In October 2010, the Council published requirements for ITE programmes. From January 2011, the requirements have applied to new programmes and those being reviewed.

The requirements include:

  • entry to the programmes;
  • how the programmes will be delivered (programmes must adequately model the skills and practices required in the context in which the teachers will teach);
  • assessing character and fitness to be a teacher; and
  • programme regulations (for example, a student teacher might have only two opportunities to pass each paper/course).

The Council's website states that "programme applications are also required to show how the Graduating Teacher Standards are met in the programme delivery and assessment".3

Approving, monitoring, and reviewing initial teacher education programmes

The Council approves an ITE programme when it is satisfied that graduates will gain the knowledge and skills to teach in their specialised sector (early childhood, primary, secondary, or Māori-medium kura) and so meet the Graduating Teacher Standards.

An approval panel reviews new ITE programmes to ensure that they meet the Council's requirements. A Council-only panel reviews new ITE programmes in the university sector. A joint panel Council-NZQA panel reviews new ITE programmes in the non-university sector for the first three years of the programmes' operation. After three years, a Council-only panel does the reviews.

The Council monitors ITE programmes to ensure that they keep meeting its requirements. In the university sector, the monitors will have contracts with the Council. In the non-university sector, NZQA will contract monitors. The Council receives a copy of the monitoring reports from the provider and NZQA (in the non-university sector) and from the Council's contracted provider (in the university sector).

To ensure that ITE programmes still meet the Council's requirements, during a programme's sixth year of delivery, a visiting panel reviews:

  • the programme;
  • changes to the programme during the previous six years; and
  • any proposed changes to the programme.

The review panel is a Council-only panel for university and non-university sector programmes.

The Council also requires ITE providers to carry out surveys of graduates and their employers every six years.

The role of the Tertiary Education Commission

The Tertiary Education Commission funds tertiary education organisations that provide ITE. It also monitors the performance of the organisations that receive funding from it by measuring their performance against specified outcomes.

The role of providers of initial teacher education

Providers are responsible for preparing ITE programmes and getting approval from the Council and NZQA or CUAP to offer the programmes to students.

When an ITE programme has been approved, providers are responsible for identifying students who have the appropriate prerequisites to complete the programme successfully. The provider is then responsible for delivering the programme to the students and assessing whether students meet the programme's requirements and should graduate from it.

The role of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority

NZQA manages the qualifications framework, accredits institutions to deliver particular programmes, and approves and accredits individual programmes in the non-university sector.4

NZQA is also responsible for monitoring programmes in the non-university sector to ensure that providers keep to the agreed standards for approval and accreditation and that any recommendations made when the programme was approved are addressed.

NZQA monitors the programme until it is satisfied that the programme is working well. The provider is then expected to monitor the programme.

The role of the Committee on University Academic Programmes

CUAP is responsible for approving university programmes from an academic quality perspective.

Universities prepare programmes and submit them to CUAP for approval. CUAP reviews programmes to ensure that they meet NZQA's criteria. One of those criteria – "Acceptability" – is the acceptability of the proposed programme's stated aims and learning outcomes, content, and structure to the relevant professional communities.

Other reviews and audits

Every five to seven years, universities carry out internal reviews, which cover teacher education programmes.

The New Zealand Universities Academic Audit Unit carries out regular audits. These audits focus on the university's systems and processes to ensure and improve the quality of education programmes, including ITE programmes.

Our comments about initial teacher education

The system described in this Part is complex, given that the tertiary education and ITE system is devolved and that there are many potential providers.

The Council's task is to ensure that ITE is fit for purpose and provides what registration requires. Other organisations are responsible for the academic quality of programmes and for funding tertiary education. An important feature of the system for registering teachers is that the Council approves ITE programmes and sets the registration standards for entry to the profession.

The system has built-in shared roles and responsibilities. The requirement for dual approvals is designed to ensure that professional and academic requirements are met. When changes to the system such as revised graduate standards or criteria for teacher registration are made or proposed, the relevant entities have to co-operate effectively. Changes of this kind have to be phased in gradually, so that people part-way through their programmes are not disadvantaged. Changes to raise quality standards need to be worked into ITE programmes before they can come into effect.

To co-operate effectively, the public entities involved in ITE must:

  • be clear about each other's roles and responsibilities; and
  • recognise that the system requires them to collaborate.

2: The CUAP is the accrediting and approval arm of Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara. Universities New Zealand is responsible for the quality of university programmes, administers a range of scholarships, and represents the universities.

3: See

4: NZQA's framework is a comprehensive list of all quality-assured qualifications in New Zealand. NZQA assures the quality of all National Certificates, National Diplomas, National Degrees, and the New Zealand Diploma in Business. See for more information.

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