Owing to similarities in educational systems, New Zealand trained teachers can seamlessly transition into UK schools without further training. While this means jobs for NZ teachers are easier to find, it doesn’t mean that a career in the UK is devoid of new experiences- and challenges! Below are seven differences as conveyed by New Zealand teachers working through Teaching Personnel in the UK:
Perhaps the most notable difference faced by NZ teachers is the average size of UK schools. While this is dependant on geographical location, most metropolitan centres have schools with five or six classes per year group!
In addition to larger schools, newly arrived NZ teachers are often surprised by the average UK classroom size. The OECD reports that UK classrooms are some of the biggest in the developed world. There is a legal limit of 30 students, though this is often surpassed due to population pressures.
Possibly the most confusing difference for newly arrived New Zealand teachers is the break down of the UK academic year. No longer does the year begin at the start- in February, and end in December. Now you will enjoy the beginning of the academic year in September, and the end in July! Thankfully a six week summer break remains a staple- though its appearance over July and August takes some adjustment.
Following from term dates is a difference which causes NZ teachers to pang for home- public holidays. Both the 8th February and 25th April in 2016 were normal Monday mornings to NZ teachers of the UK. While there were events to commemorate both Waitangi and ANZAC days in the UK, they meant late night celebrations, and bleary eyed Tuesdays.
Close proximity to the EU ensures the UK enjoys high levels of international pupils, to a much higher degree than in NZ. As such teachers from NZ notice a greater amount of time and resources devoted to accommodating ESOL students. Many schools employ multilingual support staff to aid students with English as a second, third or even fourth language!
UK and NZ schools are both assessed in similar ways; however the body responsible in the UK is OFSTED (the Office for Standards in Education). Unlike a 1-10 rating, OFSTED assesses and grades schools from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘outstanding’.
The final difference is the range of options open to teachers entering the UK. Faith, State, Private, Free, Foundation and Academy schools are just some of the different educational institutions open to NZ teachers. This can be daunting when coming from a State dominated system; most UK schools follow the national curriculum and differ only in their management structures and financial sources. Even when teaching an alternative curriculum, lessons don’t tend to deviate too far from the norm- so don’t be afraid to register with us!
With each of these differences comes the opportunity to grow and develop as a teacher. Of the teachers consulted in the writing of this piece, all remained adamant that moving to the UK was the highlight of their career!