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Local Solutions for Local Problems: Addressing Teacher Supply in Rural Communities

  • Year: 2007
  • Author: Yates, Russell
  • Journal Name: Education in Rural Australia
  • Journal Number: Vol. 17, No. 1
  • Country: New Zealand

Teacher shortage in rural localities is a long-standing issue in New Zealand. This paper reports on an attempt to reduce the impact of shortages by redesigning the way preservice teacher education was delivered. Called the Mixed Media Programme (MMP), this is a primary (elementary) teacher education programme that was established in 1997 in New Zealand by the University of Waikato. It was initially introduced to rural areas of the North Island of New Zealand. It continues now as a viable and accessible flexible option for teacher education and is a significant means of ensuring better teacher supply in numerous rural areas. The programme uses a combination of face-to-face teaching; school based learning activities and electronic communication. There is an annual intake of about 60 student teachers, most of who study at home in their local area. Now in its tenth year, the programme has produced more than 400 graduates, many of whom are still teaching in schools throughout New Zealand. This paper reports on a small-scale study, which sought to examine the way that student teachers, teachers and school principals from two communities perceive the programme and its effects on these communities. School principals, teachers, graduates and current student teachers were asked about the way that the programme has enabled people from local communities to firstly study to become teachers in these communities and then to teach in them. Their views show that student teachers have found this approach to teacher education very beneficial to local communities for a number of reasons, including stable staffing for schools, commitment to teacher education programmes, confidence about the quality of the graduates they employed. The student teachers reported that they were able to become teachers without having to leave their local communities, were exposed to university education as mature student teachers and that their study has had a range of effects on them and their families. It can be concluded from the evidence that the Mixed Media Programme has had important positive effects upon the two small communities of the study, at individual, school and wider community level.

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