Overseas teachers add a richness to learning

Issue: Volume 101, Number 6

Posted: 20 May 2022
Reference #: 1HAUD5

In July 2021 the Government added teachers to its list of critical workers. A Border Exception Programme was established to allow up to 300 overseas-qualified teachers to enter the country while the border was closed. All 300 spaces have now been allocated and more than 100 international teachers have already moved to Aotearoa and are working in critical teaching roles within eligible early learning centres, schools and kura. Education Gazette caught up with two of them.

Sam Kordan and wife Rachel with their children Felix (4), Robyn (6), and Lotta (3).

Sam Kordan and wife Rachel with their children Felix (4), Robyn (6), and Lotta (3).

Sam Kordan, Central Hawke’s Bay College

Sam and his young family flew from their home in Birmingham, England, so he could take up a position as the secondary mathematics teacher at Central Hawke’s Bay College.

Sam and his wife had spent time in New Zealand in 2010 on a working holiday visa and made the call last year to return permanently. 

This was mid-2021 and despite being “tricky, tricky times”, Sam saw the Central Hawke’s Bay College job listing, applied for it and secured it. However, at this time, the border remained closed to most visitors. 

“It was a mixture of emotions and we just had to be patient,” he says.

Fortunately, the Border Exception Programme allowing teachers to fill critical roles in New Zealand schools was announced shortly after and, in October, Sam received the news he was hoping for. 

A few months later, he and his family arrived in Waipukurau, Hawke’s Bay during the heat of the New Zealand summer.  

“We lived on the outskirts of Birmingham, it’s quite an industrial place, and part of the attraction for us coming back to New Zealand is that everything is less clogged up. There’s space between houses!” he says. 

Driving freely around the region “without spending half your life queuing and waiting in traffic” is also a welcome change for the Kordans. 

The family is living in a house provided by the Ministry of Education, and his three children aged six, four and three are enjoying the freedom of the outdoors and their new learning environments. 

Their eldest is having a great time at Waipukurau Primary School, while the younger two are enjoying Lakeview Kindergarten. 

“They’re outside all the time, whether it’s in the garden, going down to the beach, or finding a walking trail nearby. It’s just lovely.” 

Sam says principal Lance Christiansen, mathematics head of faculty Catherine Ewen, and the rest of the school community have welcomed them with open arms. 

“Lance was absolutely brilliant. It was a long process and he was really helpful every step of the way. He came to see us just after we arrived to check how we were settling in. Catherine too was very supportive and really helped with the transition.

“We do feel that this is good for us and it fits with us as a family.” 

A new curriculum

Sam has completed his first term at Central Hawke’s Bay College, working closely with Catherine to produce teaching and learning materials for Year 9 and 10 students. 

“I really like how it’s a proper community school. The students are lovely and the staff are very supportive. I feel very lucky.” 

He is enjoying teaching The New Zealand Curriculum and likes how it allows students to develop in a balanced way that supports the whole child. 

A recent school athletics day is an example. “It was relaxed and people were enjoying themselves. It is that balance of the whole child being able to pursue all aspects of the curriculum that is really nice.”

As a mathematics teacher, Sam appreciates being able to tailor the curriculum towards more relevant real-life scenarios and giving more contextually driven assessments. 

“I like the way that you can be doing maths at up to senior level but not necessarily with a purely academic focus to it; it’s more relatable.” 

Yohana Acosta (far right), her husband Alberto Morales (centre left), and Ōtāhuhu College principal Neil Watson (centre right) with some robotics students.

Yohana Acosta (far right), her husband Alberto Morales (centre left), and Ōtāhuhu College principal Neil Watson (centre right) with some robotics students.

Yohana Acosta, Ōtāhuhu College

Yohana and her husband are settling into life in Manukau, South Auckland, after she secured a position as a science and robotics teacher at Ōtāhuhu College through the Border Exception Programme.

The couple, who hail from Colombia, had previously visited New Zealand in 2013 studying English and fell in love with the country, the “friendly and very helpful” people, the “organised and structured” education system and the “beautiful” landscape and outdoors. 

After more than 10 years teaching physics and mathematics across primary and secondary levels in a Colombian state school, Yohana applied for New Zealand teaching jobs in November last year. 

“The process was super easy actually. Everything was pretty clear and I received two offers,” Yohana says. She chose Ōtāhuhu College because it is a public school with students from more vulnerable backgrounds.

“I enjoy working with this type of school because I know that the students really need a teacher who takes care of them to help them achieve the best of their abilities.” 

Settling in

Yohana’s husband is also a teacher and landed a role teaching technology at Ōtāhuhu College shortly after the couple arrived earlier this year. 

“The college is huge so I don’t see my husband much, he’s in another department but we get to travel in and finish the day together.” 

Yohana says she feels a particular connection to ākonga Māori and Māori culture. 

She is also impressed by the organised science department and the collaboration between teachers. 

“They have everything organised by topic with lessons and tests prepared. All the information that you need is there and everyone expects the same thing. I like that.”

The school community has also been supportive of the couple as they settle.

“We’re really happy here. Ōtāhuhu is an amazing school and the staff are very supportive,” she says. 

She and her husband are looking forward to sharing their knowledge to complement the school’s existing programmes. 

“My husband has already started a robotics lounge in the technology department too, helping students learn more about the design process, 3D modelling (Tinkercad), and programming (micro bits),” she says. 

Yohana hopes to continue her studies here and learn more about the New Zealand culture so she can implement different projects within the community.

“I want to support my students and hopefully inspire them to consider a career in science,” she says. 

Ōtāhuhu principal Neil Watson says Yohana was one of three teachers the school has employed through the Border Exception Programme.

“The process each time has been straightforward and we’ve now got three excellent teachers making a real difference in the classroom already,” he says. 

Neil says teachers from overseas add a “real richness to the learning” and benefit the entire school community. As such, he has personally ensured the teachers are supported as they settle into their new community. 

“It’s a big move, moving countries, so we want to make it as easy as possible, whether that’s helping them with accommodation or picking them up from the airport. It’s not rocket science, essentially you’ve got a guest so how can you best be hospitable?”

The Border Exception Programme is now closed. As a small number of applications may be withdrawn, a waitlist has been set up for those schools and early learning services who have an urgent need and a credible pathway to get a teacher into New Zealand before July.

More information about the programme is available at temahau.govt.nz/covid-19 (external link)

If a teacher arrives in the country on or before 31 July 2022, they may be eligible for a Resident 21 visa. More information can be found at immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas(external link)

From 23 May 2022, employers can apply for accreditation so they can hire migrant teachers on a new Accredited Employer Worker Visa. The visa will be available from 4 July 2022. More information about this new visa can be found at immigration.govt.nz/employ-migrants(external link) 

For more information about the 28-day waiver, visit education.govt.nz/our-work/(external link) 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 11:05 am, 20 May 2022

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