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Teaching Council strengthens evidence-based approach to English language competency

12 November 2018

A wider range of assessments will be offered to test English language proficiency for prospective teachers from January next year.

The “Language Requirements for Teaching in Aotearoa New Zealand” policy requires every New Zealand-registered teacher to be competent in the languages of New Zealand’s national curricula - English or te reo Māori.  

A review of the policy by the Teaching Council has found that the current English language proficiency requirements are not well understood. Teaching Council Registration Manager Rex Smith, says the Council reviewed the requirements to ensure they support robust business processes, such as initial teacher education, registration and contact centre activities.

“We are not lowering the current English language proficiency standard, but we are changing our approach so that we focus on evidence of English language proficiency. 

“We are broadening what we accept as proof of English language proficiency, so that candidates can offer a greater range of evidence to demonstrate their competency.”

The changes include:

  • Having the same English Language proficiency requirements for registration and entry to initial teacher education.
  • Extending the range of recognised test providers to include Cambridge English exams B2 First (FCE); Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, TOEFL Internet-based test (iBT) and Trinity ISE III (3), as well as IELTS.
  • Accepting tertiary qualifications from the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States and Canada (excluding Québec) as proof of competency; as well as from New Zealand and Australia. Accepting schooling in the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States and Canada (excluding Québec) as proof of competency; as well as in New Zealand and Australia.
  • Recognising the Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA) and Trinity College London Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL) as evidence.
  • Making our discretionary process clearer and more transparent so people know what evidence they need to provide and the basis on which exemptions are likely to be granted.

“We want to ensure all children and young people benefit from a high-quality teaching workforce,” says Rex Smith.

“Teaching is a linguistically-challenging profession. New Zealand teachers need to be competent in English or te reo Māori, which are the spoken languages of our national curriculum, to support children and young people to achieve the best educational outcomes.”

The Teaching Council has significant statutory responsibilities under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act, which means the Teaching Council and the Australian States must maintain similar standards. Currently all Australian States and Territories have an IELTS requirement of 7.5, and those same states accept the New Zealand standard of 7.

The Council intends to have the new requirements in place from January 2019.  We will publish updates on our website and work directly with stakeholders on the implementation.