New directions for specialist teaching programme

Friday 1 May 2020
An increased focus on partnerships, digital innovation and equity are all part of the new directions for the Specialist Teaching programme.
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Specialist teachers will have the opportunity to enrol in the re-designed programme from 2021.

Last updated: Tuesday 5 April 2022

An increased focus on partnerships, digital innovation and equity are all part of the new directions for the specialist teaching programme. 

The postgraduate diploma (PGDip) Specialist Teaching qualification is being redesigned in 2020 and will be offered from 2021, building on the past 10 years’ delivery through the University’s Institute of Education. The re-design is a collaboration between the University's specialist teaching experts and the Ministry of Education with stakeholders in specialist sectors and mana whenua in the regions.

These new partnerships are at the core of the re-designed qualification, following the successful bid by the University for the ongoing provision of the national programme. The goal is to grow a specialist kaiako workforce with a skillset to support tamariki with diverse learning needs and be responsive to learners’ identities, languages and cultures.

The programme is designed for interprofessional learning and practice across specialist education areas including early intervention, blind and low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, complex educational needs, learning and behaviour and gifted. Another key new direction is to include autism and neurodiversity as a core element across the programme.

Co-directors of the programme Associate Professors Mandia Mentis and Alison Kearney say the qualification will be built on the principles of inclusion, equity and human rights and will contribute to an inclusive education system in which the participation, achievement, wellbeing and progress of all learners are supported. Students will also play an important role in the re-design through collaborative engagement with regional communities.

Programme Coordinator Dr Wendy Holley-Boen, from Massey's Institute of Education, says a goal of the programme is to increase uptake of the qualification by Māori and Pacific education professionals and those with a lived experience of disability, promoting a more diverse specialist teaching workforce.

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Programme coordinator Dr Wendy Holley-Boen with programme co-directors Associate Professor Alison Kearney and Associate Professor Mandia Mentis, all from Massey's Institute of Education.

Teaching in a digital age

The redesigned programme – the result of extensive consultation across the sector – aims to support specialist teachers to be flexible and responsive practitioners skilled and capable in the area of teaching and learning in a digital age.

“Now more than ever, during and post-Covid 19, the ability to be agile and teach and learn in a digital world is critical. This programme is delivered in a blended way (online and face-to-face) incorporating the skills of self-directed and life-long learning. It supports the development of practitioners who can rapidly respond to our current changing educational landscapes to ensure equitable learning outcomes for all,” say Dr Mentis and and Dr Kearney.

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Teachers will be able to incorporate a wider range of activities to affirm learners' cultural identities.

More funding for Ministry of Education study awards

The Ministry’s Learning Support teacher study awards support about 300 kaiako each year to study the Postgraduate Diploma in Specialist Teaching – a two-year, part time course. The annual budget for the contract and the study awards in 2020/21 will be $4.331m. 

The qualification will make it easier for teachers to manage their study alongside work and family commitments by having more flexible learning options and delivery methods. It will also allow teachers to incorporate a range of learning activities that can be credited towards the qualification and affirm learners’ identities, language and cultures, including in Māori medium settings.