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Themes and Strands: Programme Content


A conceptual framework presents the philosophy and values that underpin University of Otago Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes. The framework is underpinned by four themes.

  1. Social justice;
  2. Working in partnership (ako);
  3. Evidence-based media-enhanced teaching; and,
  4. Community of learners.

‘Community’ provides an overarching concept.

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The ITE programmes are divided into a number of central strands which address the essentials of teacher knowledge during the programme of study:

Bachelor of Teaching (BTchg) Strands

Master of Teaching and Learning (MTchgLn) Strands

Education StudiesTeaching in Context
Professional Studies and PracticeCurriculum
Curriculum StudiesInquiry (Professional Experience)
Subject StudiesPedagogy (Diversity and Inclusion)

These strands consist of papers which are designed to promote student reflection on the interrelationship of knowledge and issues presented throughout their chosen programme and to make connections between theory and practice associated with these papers.

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Bachelor of Teaching Strands

Education Studies - Ako Whakauranga

Examine theories concerning how people learn and the socio-cultural factors that influence them. This provides an understanding of the theory behind teaching and learning, the factors which enhance each of these processes, and the role and responsibilities of the teacher.  An examination of the sociological and educational issues affecting New Zealand educational settings is also included.  The knowledge from these studies will support and complement the content of other studies and will provide a sound theoretical basis for teaching.

Professional Studies and Practice - Ako Tohunga

This component of the programme provides you, as a student teacher, with the context in which you will be able to integrate the theoretical components of courses with the practical reality of teaching.

You will be mentored by a mentor teacher (associate teacher) who will be responsibile for the day-to-day supervision of your professional practice.  A university mentor (college lecturer) will work in partnership with the mentor teacher to support your professional learning.  You will experience, as appropriate to the ITE programme you are enrolled in, a variety of placements over the length of your programme with different age groups and different types of educational settings.  This may be within early childhood centres, kōhunga, primary schools and kura in bilingual and/or immersion contexts, intermediate and/or secondary schools.

In this strand you will develop and extend knowledge, skills and attitude essential to becoming a creative, skilled and reflective professional. Understand what is required to establish relationships to work effectively with children, families/whānau, other teachers, the community and government agencies. You will develop and extend knowledge and improve skills through progressive teaching experiences (practicum).

Throughout this professional experience and engagement in other courses you will be expected to demonstrate a bicultural approach by using Te Reo Māori and reflecting your understandings of Te Ao Māori and tikanga Māori which you will gain from Subject Studies.

In the Te Pōkai Mātauranga o te Ao Rua programme, there will also be specific development of key concepts and understanding within te Ao Māori – with an emphasis on Tikanga, Whakapapa, Purākau and Whakatauki in a range of contexts.

There are 23 weeks of teaching practice across three years of all the three-year and four-year programmes.  In the Primary programme you will spend each Monday and Tuesday in schools, as well as 13 weeks of teaching practice.

Curriculum Studies - Akorunga Marau Mātauranga

Early Childhood Education

In the ECE programmes you will learn about Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum, from the history of its development to its role in providing teachers with a framework for appropriate practice.

Primary Education and Te Pōkai Mātauranga o te Ao Rua (Primary Bicultural Education)

In the Primary programmes you will examine the philosophy, content, integration and methods of delivery to implement the New Zealand Curriculum in primary and intermediate schools.  In addition, Te Pōkai Mātauranga o te Ao Rua students will have an introduction to marau – guidelines for teaching in Māori-medium settings and an exploration of te reo Māori and kaupapa Māori in primary education environments.

Secondary Education

For Secondary student teachers, this strand is designed to develop competence in your specialist subjects.  In these papers you will cover approaches, activities, assessment and resources appropriate to the teaching of each subject.  Read more about the Secondary Curriculum Subjects.

Subject Studies - Whaia Akonga

Students may select from a wide range of papers, providing an opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge in selected subject areas or specialisation, to enrich teaching in their chosen field.  You can choose from a range of papers offered across the University, including papers offered by the College of Education that have a strong educational relevance.   See what Subject Studies are offered by the College of Education.

  • Bachelor of Teaching (ECE and Primary) students will select subject studies worth 36 points.
  • There are no subject studies for Te Pōkai Mātauranga o te Ao Rua (Primary Bicultural Education) or Master of Teaching and Learning student teachers.
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Master of Teaching and Learning (MTchgLn) Strands

Teaching in Context

Examines and critiques the education system in Aotearoa and the learning theories and key documents that underpin development as a member of the teaching profession.


Engaging across curriculum learning areas and developing pedagogically appropriate teaching approaches; and extending and broadening curriculum knowledge and pedagogically appropriate teaching approaches across curriculum learning areas.

Inquiry (Professional Experience)

This takes two forms:

  • Evidence-based Inquiry – designing data-driven learning interventions and teaching strategies across curriculum learning areas that demonstrate decision-making skills, reflective practice, effective use of ICT, personal teaching growth and development. This involves sustained guided engagement with groups of student learners, centred around teaching as inquiry and building of relationships with student learners and their community, using research-informed pedagogy, and gathering evidence related to achievement, building an evidence-based reflective e-portfolio.
  • Extended Evidence-based Inquiry – extending the inquiry approach across curriculum learning areas for sustained teaching and learning, engagement focused on professional and collaborative relationships, a learning culture which engages diverse learners, engagement with Te Reo Māori ngā Tikanga-a-iwi and pedagogically-informed ICT use. This includes a sustained block of teaching in two different partner schools. Student teachers continue to extend their practice and will set their own learning goals to facilitate a more personalised and contextualised learning experience. They are encouraged to develop their philosophy of teaching, grounded in theory and reflect their beliefs about quality pedagogical practice. Student teachers will give a capstone presentation to a professional audience drawing on artefacts from their e-portfolio.


Diversity and inclusion strategies, valuing identity and diversity for engagement with priority learners, gifted and talented learners, and learners with special needs.

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All initial teacher education students will be required to demonstrate competency in the areas of Information and Communication Technologies, Literacy and Mathematics. All applicants to our ITE qualifications are assessed prior to entry. This will occur at the point of short-listing. You may have sufficient literacy and numeracy competence if you have the appropriate NCEA literacy and numeracy credits, otherwise you will be required to sit literacy and numeracy screening tests at the time of interview.

Once enrolled, during the first weeks of your programme you will be required to sit further, more rigorous literacy and numeracy tests and an ICT test. All students must pass these tests. If you fail at the first attempt, support is available and you may resit the tests at any time and as many times as needed. Student teachers may not proceed to the second professional experience paper without having passed all competency tests.

These entry standards and processes ensure that graduating students meet the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand registration criteria of “good character” and “fit to be a teacher”.