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Teaching in New Zealand - A Perspective

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by andrewrockliffe, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. <font size="2">Sitting here enjoying the sunshine at Christmas, reflecting on two years spent teaching in New Zealand, I thought it was time to put down a few words to illuminate the path for those in the UK contemplating a move.</font><font size="2">In true D&T fashion, I shall proceed on an evaluation basis, with bullet points!</font><font size="2">Let&rsquo;s start with the good:</font><font size="2">The weather is much better than the UK, with warmer summers and milder winters.</font><font size="2">The workload is smaller, with less meetings.</font><font size="2">Wages are paid every 2 weeks, which is so much easier than monthly.</font><font size="2">And the Bad?</font><font size="2">Red Tape - Getting here was an absolute nightmare. Despite starting the ball rolling 4 months before leaving the UK, I still arrived without my qualifications being ratified and no work Visa. The whole process is costly (it runs into thousands - and that is without air fares etc), time consuming and incredibly frustrating. It is also on-going, as I am currently contemplating whether to have more police checks, more medicals, and spend more money on my Third Visa - yes, you need to renew it every year. As I am now married to a New Zealand lady, so I could go the residence route, but that would cost even more. Many colleagues have left when faced with the same dilemma - spend the money on yet another Visa or buy a ticket home.</font><font size="2">Qualifications - NZ does not recognise the PGCE for salary purposes, and if you have a GTTP they will not recognise that at all. For a country that bases much of its Education system on the practices in the UK, this is simply ridiculous and is a big clue to how we are treated over here. We have to pay a lot of money (Hundreds) to have our Degrees and Post Grad study ratified by a country which uses Cambridge to ratify their own international GCSE program!</font><font size="2">Cost of Living - getting much, much worse. Food prices have shot through the roof over the past couple of years and many teachers are struggling to make ends meet. For an easy comparison, 2L of milk is 2.50, compared to about 1.70 in the UK. This is 50% more expensive - and that can be extrapolated across all your food and household bills. Electrical goods, clothing and cars are roughly double the price. A decent 3 bed house in a decent area of Auckland costs 1000 - 1500 pounds a month, Salaries have parity in the middle of the scale, but newly qualified and responsibility holders are on less.</font><font size="2">Professional Development - Simply appalling. Getting a job here is fairly easy, but as others have said, moving to other schools or trying for promotion is very, very difficult. They tend to promote Kiwi's, which on the face of it is understandable, but you will constantly ask yourself 'How on earth did that person get the job' - and that applies to many of the senior roles including Principals. Contentious? Of course, but like many things in New Zealand, scratch away the surface and there is often something rather ugly underneath. For example, New Zealand is a green country, a champion for the environment, that is the perception of many and one of the big selling points of the country. When you get here, you will be surprised to see that the car of choice and aspiration is huge with a gas guzzling V8 under the bonnet!</font><font size="2">Politics - There is an uneasy, forced symbiotic relationship in NZ. There is deep seated anger and unrest here, and some of the views expressed will have you aghast. It is a 4 way split - Maori, European Kiwi, European immigrant and Asian (Asian is a term used in New Zealand to describe Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Indian, Pakistani etc). The situation here is tense, let no-one tell you otherwise, and it is going to get much worse.</font><font size="2">Driving - Appalling. The road death toll is horrendous for a developed nation. Many factors contribute to this situation. Many people are driving on the road without ever having a driving lesson, the roads themselves are very poorly set out and signposted, lane discipline on the motorways is non-existent and to cap it all, you will be amazed at the lack of courtesy, the level of arrogance and pure aggressive bloody mindedness of the driving. I used to enjoy driving in the UK, but make excuses not to go out here.</font><font size="2">Psyche - New Zealand suffers from small country syndrome, as do many of the people. If you look at the population figures, the rate of growth is declining, and if you take away the huge amount of people coming in from China, the population is actually in decline. This would appear strange for a new country full of possibilities, so to those who will no doubt disagree with many of my musings - ask yourself the question why this may be? We are referred to as Poms, which is derogatory, and that name has recently (2010) officially been given the all clear by the government to be used by all, including broadcasting. This is a big indication of where the country and the leadership is going. New Zealand has become a violent society, and it is getting worse.</font><font size="2">Wages - Watch them. I lost out on $2000 through over-payment of tax, and despite writing numerous letters the money is now gone as the window of complaint is now closed.</font><font size="2">Work: NZQA simply doesn't cut it. The goalposts are constantly shifting and externally assessed coursework is a lottery. This makes it incredibly difficult to accurately predict where the students will be placed and makes a mockery of predicted grades. Many schools are now opting for the IGCSE qualification, so again, to those who question my point - ask yourself why. The leadership here is not transparent, and decisions are made which beggar belief. I have lost count the number of times I have been lied to by the leadership team, in my own school and others. The reason for this is not that people from New Zealand are pathological liars, though the evidence is there to support this both professionally and personally, it is more to do with small country syndrome and wanting to save face.</font><font size="2">If you have read this far you will probably think that my perspective is wholly negative and I wish I had never come here. Wrong - I came for experiences and that is exactly what I have had, good or bad. But there is a caveat - I came here a single person, and we can leave whenever we choose, which will be soon, but if you have a family, please think carefully before making that decision. Sue has had her eyes opened by my experiences and she does not like what she sees in her own country. She has written to Government ministers to complain about my treatment and is looking forward to getting out of the place.</font><font size="2">I leave you with a true story, which illustrates a point I am not willing to say:</font><font size="2">I bought a pair of pliers from a well known, large chain of electronics stores here. On fist using them, they broke so I took them back for a refund: 'Sorry mate, you can't have a refund' was the reply, 'why not' I asked, 'because they are broken' came the reply. Nuff said.</font>

  2. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    Strewth. I cannot believe you. In a school !
    Strewth. I cannot believe you. In a school.

    Sounds horrid.

    Hurry back here. (My head told me that he didn&acute;t know what the word lie meant. You&acute;d love working for him.)
  3. Hey dude,
    Did you work as a secondary or primary teacher in the UK? I'm guessing it is secondary as you mention GCSE's. I'm a primary school teacher in Birmingham and am hoping to emigrate to NZ next year and I found your post very interesting.
    I was just wondering if those things about poor CPD, being lied to by superiors, goalposts shifting, etc ever happened to you here in the UK?
    The other things you mention intrigue me too as I have been researching a lot about living in New Zealand as well as having lived there for a year on a working holiday visa and visited on a holiday. The driving isn't great, but no worse than the UK in my experience. It did seem a touch expensive when I was last there, though, which is a bit of a worry.
    I have to disagree about the 'Pom' comment - I think on the whole it is used fairly affectionately as in my experience the Kiwis love a bit of banter. It's certainly no worse than some of the terms the Britons use to describe all sorts of people here!
    I've heard of people getting a rough deal regarding tax here in the UK too (e.g. being over paid for years and then demanding it back immediately), so I don't think that is exclusive to New Zealand.
    Your post has certainly given me something to think about, it's just I think that the UK is guilty of all the things you mentioned and possibly more. Maybe NZ is the lesser of two evils, or maybe the grass is always greener - there is only one way to find out, I guess...
  4. Thanks Dan, for your more balanced post. The OP's vitriol reeks of someone who fondly imagined that he was going to the land of milk and honey and became very bitter when he realised that it's a country with its non-perfect bits, just like any other.
    He's also letting his bitterness from one school cloud his judgement and is tarring the rest of the country with the same brush. He fails to see what you do - that for Kiwis to teach in the UK is every bit as difficult, if not harder. I did my OE working supply in the UK. I can't go and teach there now without retraining to get my QTS. And he thinks he's been poorly treated!
    No country is perfect and NZ has its share of bureaucracy and bad drivers (well, maybe more than its fair share of bad drivers), but most Brits who go there to teach enjoy it, so it can't be all bad! See the NZ megathread for people who have found it a change for the better. There are a couple of regular posters who are finding their work-life balance much healthier and even their financial situation is fine.
  5. Be very careful about advice you read in forums. My comments are based on my own experience and those of others who I have spoken to here. There are many Pro-New Zealanders on various forums who will not here a word said about the place, and many are clearly either deluded or have an alternate adgenda.
    Have a read of:
    Make your own mind up, but please take time to read and consider before comning out here. Another major problem is that once you are here, you will find it very difficult to get back to the UK.

  6. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    Not sure if a single trip to Berlin qualifies me as NZophile, but it certainly wasn&acute;t required to teach about persistent and egregious British educational mendacity. Not to mention national group collective cognitive dissonance re- classroomChaos.
  7. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    Aussies and Kiwis have always indulged in friendly banter and rivalry so prior to my experience in Fiji as HOP of an international school, I had always regarded Kiwis with affection as our bothers in arms and fellow ANZACS.
    The majority of expats in Fiji are Kiwis and I have never met a more miserable, racist and snivelling group of people in my whole life. The way they treated the locals was just appalling. The Kiwi mothers at the school were a bunch of complete and utter nutters and I kept thinking that I would have to meet one Kiwi who was OK. I didn't.
    I had my teachers crying with the bullying and abuse that used to go on there. So I developed a loathing for them. As soon as I would hear that God awful accent, I would come out in a rash.
    I kept this to myself as any sort of prejudice is nothing to be proud of but in starting at my new job, a colleague had just come back from a secondment in NZ to set up a specialised Special Ed course at one of their leading Universities. I aksed her how she had enjoyed her year and she vented big time which of course made me feel a bit better as it wasn't just my warped mind who found most Kiwis difficult.
    Nothing I've experienced since or no-one I have met since has changed my mind one iota. I wouldn't live there for quids and if you are not of the white persuasion just don't go there.
  8. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    Oh my God, I really should learn to preview before posting. That should read 'brothers in arms' but bothers is sort of just perfect really.
  9. Be warned; I think this will be a long one!
    I think generalisations like this are exactly what you have to be careful of when reading forums. Saying people are 'deluded and having an alternate agenda' is a frighteningly cynical view. I suspect they are - just like you, Andrew - giving their opinions based on their own experience. Why does that make them deluded?! Why does that mean they have an alternate agenda?
    This quote from Yasimum is even scarier.
    This is a spectacular generalisation! Miserable?! My Kiwi Uncle, Aunt, and three cousins are the cheeriest people I know! And all of the people they introduced us to in Hamilton were extremely upbeat too. And lots (but not all ;o) of the other people I've met in New Zealand were shiny, happy people.
    Racist?! I've just come back from a two week holiday/honeymoon in NZ. My wife is asian of Bangladeshi heritage and we experienced no racism whatsoever (we stayed in Auckland, Hamilton, Coromandel, Bay of Islands - and not just tourist spots either) - just genuine friendliness and helpful attitudes on the whole.
    Snivelling (honestly, I had to look this one up to be sure of what you meant - 'snivel - talk in a tearful manner')?! I have never - and I lived there for a year, remember - experienced a Kiwi who was 'snivelling'.
    Obviously, there are Kiwis who are rude, grumpy, mean, possibly even snivelling, but you simply cannot and must not lump them all in together and say all Kiwis (or all tall people, or all Brits, or all Americans, or all white people - you get the idea) are like this or like that. It is so important to take everyone on their own individual merits. And this is particularly important as a teacher. <u>In my opinion</u>.
    I will have a look at expatexposed.com (sounds nice and positive), but I will try and put all the comments I read into context with the many positive ones I've read and take it from there.
    Apologies for the long post.
  10. MrDoc

    MrDoc New commenter

    Loved it. English people complaining about kiwis whining! Priceless
  11. <font size="2">I believe I said 'many are clearly deluded' - now obviously that figure is open to interpretation, but it is certainly not all.</font><font size="2">Having lived and worked in New Zealand for over 2 years, I think my comments may bear more semblance of the truth than someone who has been there on holiday, or knows a few New Zealanders. </font><font size="2">We are simply a sponge, absorbing the experiences of life. We are not in control of the experiences we receive, so can only formulate an opinion on what we have seen and felt. We all have opinions about places, events, people and these are based on our interactions and, to an extent, these remain hidden under a veil of PC. We all try and think the best, and not transfer bigotry when faced with a new relationship, talking of which, I have married Sue, a New Zealander, 6 months ago. The problem arises when your own feelings about something are echoed by someone else. This obviously gives your senses more weight, and a confidence in your initial assumptions, which is proportionately fortified every time your thoughts are reinforced by another, especially when it is your spouse.</font>
  12. As a footnote to my comments above:
    Having re-read my original thoughts, which were a month ago, and compare them to now, after some very good experiences in the last few weeks - my perceptions are still valid, but learning to live with percieved faults is much more beneficial. Again, we all do that, our parents can annoy the hell out of us, but we just accept, and focus on the good bits.

  13. Congratulations on your marriage [​IMG] You make a very interesting point at the end about your feelings being echoed by others, and I do appreciate what you are saying. Also, I'm not disagreeing with the fact the people have their own opinions and that these are all equally valid.
    I just don't understand why you have decided that 'many' people who are positive about New Zealand are deluded. Surely their positivity could be simply because they have had positive (sponge-like) experiences...
    I have actually lived and worked in New Zealand for a year (it was a working holiday visa) and I worked a large number of jobs on both islands coming into contact with more than a 'few' (open to interpretation?) New Zealanders. As a result I know more than a few Kiwis as well as having relatives from New Zealand. I believe that my observations and experiences with Kiwis are reasonably valid.
    Your original post has certainly given me something to think about, so thanks for your frank and honest thread.
    Perhaps we can meet up when I eventually get over there [​IMG]
  14. Thank you for the congrats.
    It would be great to meet up, but I must warn you, I annoy the hell out of some people!

  15. Somehow that last part of the sentence does not suprise me, Andrew. I sincerely think I would be one of those people. Regarding your posts, have you considered the idea that like attracts like? A whole country cannot be as your perspective describes, my own perception of it and the people is vastly different.

    Yasimum - those are some pretty ugly comments you made. I think the country and the people in in would be quite grateful that you have decided never to visit.
  16. <font size="2">Now, would I be presumptuous enough to assume someone&rsquo;s forum name is the same as their real name? Only if I knew them.</font><font size="2">So, whatever your name is, you are saying that I am not a very nice person, someone who would annoy you, then you say that "like attracts Like", which implies that my friends and Sue, my wife, must be the same. How incredibly rude. </font> Mutuality is a great feeling.
  17. As a Pom (I actually don't mind being called this) who has spent 14 yrs teaching in New Zealand I find these initial ideas interesting. In some respect I agree with parts of your rhetoric. Kiwi driving, and roads, are appaling; though not as bad as Turkey. The cost of living is rising, but I still have plenty of spare cash to spend on great Kiwi Sav Blanc. And I invested in getting the Kiwi passport which means I can now travel and live in N.Z. or Australia (happy Australia day to all Aussies out there). And make sure you've sent those Ashes back to where they belong.
    However, despite what you say, the NZ curriculum is considered to be at the forefront of education. It is less prescriptive than the UK. And only a tiny minority of NZ schools are moving towards IGCSE (check there website Andrew). Kiwi kids and parents are no different to any around the world. In the whole 14 yrs I've taught here though, I've been sworn at less times than on my 1st day teaching in inner London. In NZ I've been a classroom teacher, dean, senior dean and DP. It is a small country, so it is not unusual when applying for new jobs for people to know you and what you are capable of delivering within education. So if you do get a reputation as a 'whining pom' it may well be difficult to move on/ up.
    Finally, PD has not been and issue. I'm currently part of two cluster groups. I have a annual subject conference I can attend and plenty of online forums. My advice is apply; be in to win!
    If you are looking to move to NZ and expect to find quaint old England here you will be disappointed. If you move to one of the major cities it will have the same social issues as any other city in the world. It'll sadly even have Macca's.
    If you want some freedom with what and how to teach, some of the finest beaches in the world, the best white wine and a 3 hr plane trip to Sydney during the 2 week end of term breaks look into moving to NZ.
  18. yasimum

    yasimum New commenter

    You are right leopard spots and as some of the comments I have heard today have reflected back to me that I did speak out of turn. However, I did find that EXPAT New Zealanders I encountered in Fiji behaved in a very ugly way (all of them in the town in which I was living). I found that the big fish in a small pond syndrome is very real and the racism and bullying of locals was outrageous and sickening. I have visited Godzone and it is a stunning country but I'm sure that the locals would be extremely grateful that, yes, I would never want to spend too much time there. I'm equally sure that there are many gracious and open minded Kiwis, sadly for me, I haven't met them yet.
  19. I have only been to NZ once, back in 1974. I thought then that the NZ-ers were far more inclusive and less racist than my fellow Australians.
    But then again I was with a bunch of drunkard Pommy 'sailors' so really not a good basis for such a polemic opinion.
  20. Andrew, (of course I do not think that is your real name) I will appologise for my comment, I was mentally intergrating the content of your posts and that of another one who was complaining about New Zealand and the education system and the smallness of the place. It is more a case of while teaching in NZ I got so bored with people from the UK expecting things to be the same as what they had left behind, I found the same with British expats while teaching in Asia and the Middle East, and the attitude that many had to local people was uncomfortable to watch. I have re-read your posts and complaining (if that is the right word) about processes and procedures is possibly justified. I appologise for insulting you and your wife (as it does look like I was intending to do)

    It was Jasimum's comments that really irked me. Due to generalised actions of American tourists when out of their country, I was suprised just how pleasant the local staff were in the school I worked in there. There is a quote that floats about "Americans at home are not like Americans out of the country" (Perhaps the same is true of New Zealanders). One, an African American teacher who was really did a lot to help me settle in and find resources that I needed, made a comment to me "you expected us to be like what you see on TV?" I met one American person I did not like, and that was her individual personality, bolshy and take over. Gross generalisations are never refective of a place or its people. I am sure that Germans do not go around putting towels on poolside/beachside chairs immediately after breakfast in their own country - I must go there and find out for myself one day!
    In Egypt an Egyptian friend translated a proverb for me "Look at my hand, all the fingers are not the same length" - all people are not the same, after I was feeling particularly hasselled by people who target tourists.

    Leo (also not my real name) (I hope this post has gone into paragraphs as I have typed it and not jumbled into one lump).

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