Walking, skiing, water-sports, amazing beaches and a beautiful countryside of contrast and extremes, New Zealand has plenty to boast about. We spoke to Bernie Feehan, manager of the Eteach New Zealand office in Wellington, about living and working in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
What’s the big attraction of New Zealand for UK early childhood educators looking to work overseas?
New Zealand has a unique appeal based on its location as one of the most isolated westernised countries in the world. It is a land of contrast – from beautiful sandy beaches to snow capped mountains, from large cities to small rural communities, and from modern sophistication to old world charm. There are two main islands, the north island and the south island, which are very different.
The north island has the largest population and the largest city Auckland which is the major business centre of the country. The capital city is Wellington, at the bottom of the north island, home to the government and its many departments and civil servants. Despite this, Wellington is regularly referred to as the culture and the cafe city of New Zealand. The coffee here is fantastic!
The south island features rugged mountains and beautiful scenery and is the main area of the adventure tourism industry; it offers a huge range of outdoor activities from outstanding skiing, to bungy jumping and jet boating. It’s been likened to a combination of parts of the Scottish highlands and parts of Switzerland. Large parts of the film trilogy ‘Lord of the Rings’ were filmed on and around these mountain ranges and there are some excellent tours that run to these locations.
New Zealand has a first class education system and is a world leader in early childhood education with its Te Whariki national curriculum. This is an outstanding, set curriculum highlighting activities and outcomes for the 0-5 age group, and there are excellent opportunities for UK trained candidates to work within it. This link will take you directly to the informative Ministry of Education website, and you can download a PDF about Te Whariki here (494 kb).
New Zealand also enjoys a safe and secure living environment and has a healthy culture of sporting, outdoor, cultural and artistic events. No matter what type of leisure activities you enjoy, you’re likely to find them readily available in New Zealand.
What do you think is the value for teachers of taking on an early childhood education post in New Zealand?
There are many benefits to working in New Zealand on a working holiday or overseas experience, just as generations of New Zealanders and Australians ritually head to the UK to work once they have completed their university studies
Working overseas demonstrates boldness, a sense of adventure and a willingness to try something new and learn new professional ideas and methodologies. The experience is invariably useful when applying for future teaching roles, and potential employers back home are likely to recognise this experience as a huge positive.
The New Zealand early childhood education experience is no different. It is a fantastic opportunity to live and work in another country that at the same time is very different to, but has distinct similarities with, the UK. New Zealand is a unique blend of the south pacific mixed with some of the traditions and cultures of the UK. Politics, education, law and sports are all based on the UK systems that arrived with the settlers over 150 years ago.
There is no doubt that teaching in a New Zealand Early Childhood Education Centre outside the UK broadens one’s horizons. Not only do you experience living in a different country as opposed to a fleeting visit on holiday, but you are also exposed to and experience different cultures and climates. There is always a healthy mix of ethnic backgrounds in these centres and teachers very quickly learn a great deal, not just about others but about themselves as well.
Could you tell us a little about the Early Childhood Centres?
The Early Childhood Centres are privately owned and funded by both the government and private funds. They are heavily regulated by the New Zealand Ministry of Education and must deliver the New Zealand early childhood 0-5 national curriculum. This regulation and curriculum has drastically increased the quality and delivery of tuition, care and professionalism within the industry. Whilst some centres will be different from others in small ways, the overall operation of centres across the entire country is now very standardised.
Centres can vary in size from 40 to over 100 students, and there are strict pupil teacher ratios which vary depending upon the age groups and numbers within those groups. Each centre is inspected on a regular basis to ensure proper practice is being delivered in line with the curriculum and regulations.
When a teacher commences a new job at a centre an extensive induction is given to ensure they are aware of all policies, occupational health and safety procedures and any individual or special needs or requirements of the children.
What do you look for in new teaching recruits and what would your advice to applicants be?
Eteach New Zealand is looking for UK trained early childhood educators that have completed or are about to complete a BA (Hons) Early Childhood Education that is equivalent to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority requirement of level 8. This is essential as it ensures that overseas trained teachers are paid at the same level as the New Zealand trained teachers they will be working with.
We have work for newly qualified teachers as well as candidates with experience. Some centres prefer experience and some do not, and we have a healthy mix of both. We are looking for candidates that can bring with them enthusiasm, commitment, a willingness to work in a team and who want to experience growth both professionally and personally. The Early Childhood Centres have a great family working environment, and a willingness to participate in the life of the centres both during the working hours and outside the working environment is a pre-requisite as well.
Eteach New Zealand offers a comprehensive pastoral care network to support and help overseas candidates make the transition into both New Zealand life and the New Zealand workplace as seamless as possible we organise regular social events for our candidates so they can share stories and experiences, make new friends and perhaps plan their next excursion or adventure weekend away.
What else should teachers considering a move to New Zealand think about?
As with any move to a new country, preliminary research about the country is essential to make a smooth transition. All candidates are encouraged to liaise with Eteach New Zealand with any questions they may have regarding the process, no matter how small.
If this sounds like something you may be interested in please make contact with Eteach and forward your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will promptly make contact and guide you through the process and New Zealand Qualifications Authority procedures. Eteach New Zealand is excited about what we can offer to suitable candidates: it will be a fantastic experience.
For a one-minute introduction to New Zealand, take a look at this video which was made by a tourist who recently visited the country.