Kiwi Polemicist

February 9, 2009

• Teachers Council says 10% of new teachers incompetent

The comments button is at the bottom right of this post.

Here’s some excerpts from a Stuff article:

The Teachers Council says principals put the number of incompetent new teachers at about 10 per cent, but last week principals told the Sunday Star-Times the figure was actually much higher.

The main problems, the principals say, are that trainee teachers don’t seem to get enough practical in-school time, and many speak English as a second language. To be admitted to train as a teacher, students have to pass stringent English-language tests, but principals say this does not mean they can cope in a classroom.

Other graduates apparently struggle with the basics of professionalism, such as dressing appropriately, turning up on time and preparing lessons.
One principal said: “It’s fair to say there’s a percentage [of graduates] that should not be in the classroom. They should not even consider it. I think the entrance requirements [to training courses] should be higher.”
One of the principals the Sunday Star-Times spoke to says the majority of graduates applying for work at his school should not be in the profession. He says their English is often a problem, as is basic spelling and grammar. Many spell the school name incorrectly, or address their application to the “principle”.

Council director Peter Lind says that when he asks principals how many graduates are problematic, they say about 10 per cent. He says this is not a significant percentage, and in any profession some new graduates will not be fully prepared. Most of the teachers who are below par will not get jobs, but he admits some schools have little choice but to hire them. [emphasis added]

If the Teachers Council says that 10% of new teachers are incompetent it’s a safe bet that the real figure is higher – official bodies always downplay the bad news.

I was personally involved in a situation last year where a school paid for a teacher to fly from one end of the country to the other for a job interview a week before the school year started. This teacher has very little experience and is incapable of explaining anything in a logical and clear manner, but still got the job. That school now has a maths teacher who believes that there is no need whatsoever to learn times tables.

In summary:

  • taxpayers a paying a fortune for teacher training
  • at least 10% of graduates from that training are incompetent
  • the Teachers Council says that that percentage is “not significant”
  • some of those incompetent teachers get jobs
  • some of those incompetent teachers are teaching a language that they themselves cannot speak properly
  • as always, governments steal money and misuse it

Is it my imagination or is there something wrong with this picture?

What do you think about your taxes paying for incompetent teachers and the effect of that on children?

Do you have first hand knowledge of incompetent teachers that you can share?




  1. The biggest problem in confronting any issue at school is the reluctance of students to speak out. I know someone who had an apparently grossly incompetent teacher last year. Unusually, the students actually started to organise a petition to raise the issue with the principal (showing how serious the issue was), but it was never completed. While I was at school I had serious concerns about the Family Planning educators brought in for sex ed – but even I never got around to laying a formal complaint or even mentioning it to the principal, because you just don’t do that sort of thing when you are a teenager.

    Teachers are a product of the education system. As educational standards decline, the quality of the education young teachers have received will also decline, and the downward spiral may be hard to correct.

    Comment by Mr Dennis — February 9, 2009 @ 10:01 am

  2. I have to agree with Dennis. Students are the end-users in this cycle and they know the quality of service that is being given to them. Therefore, they also have the power to dictate to raise the quality of education they deserve.

    Comment by Education Jobs Blogger — July 14, 2009 @ 12:00 am

    • Education Jobs Blogger: if children have always had inferior teaching they will not be able to recognise the poor quality of service because they have no basis for comparison. Parents have precious little power over state schools, and children have even less.

      The state has no business being involved in education and free market education would sort out these problems.

      Comment by Kiwi Polemicist — July 14, 2009 @ 11:18 am

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