For my learning from life placement next year, I have chosen to go to Thorrington Primary School in Christchurch, New Zealand to get an insight into a foreign education system, allowing me to compare this to my experience with the Scottish education system. I got the inspiration to go to New Zealand as this is where my mum was born and also where my uncle currently lives. I’ve always wanted to visit, therefore, this is the perfect opportunity to make the most out of my visit by gaining experience that I can take on in my professional development. I believe this placement will provide me with a range of benefits, the main being acquiring valuable life skills whilst experiencing the workplace first hand. It will give me the chance to get to know other people and their working habits allowing me to make connections for possibly working abroad later in my career. Furthermore it will help me on a personal level as well as on an academic level, for example, I will be travelling on my own which is a great deal of responsibility and will allow me to do a lot of growing as I did start university at 17 and I strongly believe that life experience that comes with studying abroad would greatly benefit my professional practice for third year. Additionally, when looking for a job abroad real hands-on experience would be a great asset.
Although I booked my flights a couple of months ago, I’m far from ready to go. As part of my preparation, I thought I’d do some research into what life is like for children in New Zealand, not just in school but out with as well to give me some background knowledge before I go.
New Zealand is well-known for being a stable, peaceful and safe place to grow up. According to the 2015 Global Index, it is the fourth safest country in the world. Additionally, HSBC’s 2015 Expat Explorer survey revealed that 76% of expat parents living in New Zealand felt that their “offspring are more healthy living in New Zealand”. They also rated New Zealand first in the world for ‘health’ as well as 3 in 5 agreeing that they personally had become more physically active since their move. The open space and vast freedom that New Zealand offers provides wonderful opportunities for sports and other outdoor activities which are very popular out there.
New Zealand’s innate need for everyone to get a ‘fair go’ in life is reflected in their inclusive health system. Residents of the country receive free or low cost health care due to the governments subsides. Their healthcare is also available to non-residents (with a cost).
New Zealand’s excellent education system has been described as the “biggest ever global school rankings”. Furthermore, in 2015 the OECD put them in the top 20 nations for the quality of their schools. The safe learning environment also involves outdoor recreation which makes use of the wide open spaces mentioned earlier.
Similar to here just slightly later, school is compulsory from 6-16 years old. New Zealand plan learning using the curriculum Te Whāriki which I will look into in another blog post. An interesting difference is that children can start school on the day they turn 5 years old , they don’t have to wait until the start of the new school year which I look forward to seeing in practice. Like our system there is 13 year levels, however, they start at secondary school slightly later at 13, therefore they only attend secondary school for 4 years.
Depending on your area there is choice for you to send your child to a single-sex school or co-educational school. Additionally, your child is guaranteed a space at your local school but you can apply to a school outside the area in which you live but a place isn’t guaranteed. The majority of the schools in New Zealand are owned and funded by the state and therefore teach the national curriculum and are non-religious. Additionally they have ‘state-integrated’ schools which were private and have since become part of the state system, attendees have to pay compulsory attendance dues. Like us they have private schools which receive some government funding but are largely funded by charging school fees, they don’t follow the national curriculum.
What I find particularly interesting is they have a ‘Correspondence School Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu’ which uses multimedia and online learning to teach those who live a long way from the local school, travel overseas, etc. Additionally, children can study one or two courses if a subject isn’t available at their school.
In conclusion, there is many similarities between a Kiwi child’s lifestyle and a Scottish child’s. However, one of the difference which I am particularly interested in is outdoor learning. In New Zealand, it is easier to cater for these outdoor experiences, however, it would be valuable to see what I can take from their teaching in outdoors and adapt it over here. Additionally, it will be interesting to see how they teach modern languages as this is also an interest of mine.