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A conceptual framework presents the philosophy and values that underpin the University of Otago Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programmes. All student teachers will become familiar with the text of the Conceptual Framework for ITE Programmes during their programme of study. The conceptual framework is represented by the following image.

Conceptual framework for teaching programmes

The image, as a representation of principles for ITE at Te Kura Ākau Taitoka locates our work in relation to harbour formations in Ōtepoti and Murihiku, local stories of interconnections between Papatūānuku, Takaroa, and Rakinui, and ngā manu Toroa and Tītī. It foregrounds our commitments to mana whenua and the importance of connections to place, environment, and local iwi, hapū and whānau to shape thinking, practice, and the development of ITE. Major principles of kaitiakitaka, equity, ako, and transformative practice are interwoven with a central thread of āta, symbolised by the taura kōwhaiwhai, securing our work within a myriad network of respectful and sustaining relationships across the realms of past, present and future. The image is intended to support continuous shared meaning making across all stakeholders and within our ITE community. As a tool it is central to our ongoing partnership conversations and actions.



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

University of Otago students may also select from a wide range of elective 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. BTchg (ECE) students must select elective papers worth 36 points, but all other ITE student teachers can also select electives as additional papers.

Bachelor of Teaching (BTchg) 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 Experience - 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 an associate/mentor teacher who will be responsible for the day-to-day supervision of your professional experience. 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 professional experiences.

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 during your programme of study.

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.

The BTchg programmes meet the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand requirement for 120 days of professional practice/professional experience in schools/centres for a three-year programme.

Curriculum Studies - Akorunga Marau Mātauranga

Early Childhood Education

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)

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 student teachers 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.

Electives - Whaia Akonga

Select papers from other approved disciplines and subjects to develop in-depth knowledge in selected subject areas or specialisation, to enrich teaching in your chosen field.

  • BTchg Early Childhood Education students must select elective papers worth 36 points.
  • BTchg Primary Education, Te Pōkai Mātauranga o te Ao Rua (Primary Bicultural Education) student teachers are not required to select electives for their programme, but they may be taken as additional papers.

See what Electives are offered by the College of Education.

Master of Teaching and Learning (MTchgLn) Strands

Education and Pedagogy

Education examines and critiques the education system in Aotearoa and the learning theories and key documents that underpin your development as a member of the teaching profession. Pedagogy includes diversity and inclusion strategies, valuing identity and diversity for engagement with priority learners, gifted and talented learners, and learners with special needs.


You will engage across curriculum learning areas and develop pedagogically appropriate teaching approaches; and extend and broaden curriculum knowledge and pedagogically appropriate teaching approaches across curriculum learning areas. For secondary education 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 Secondary Curriculum Subjects.

Details about Secondary Curriculum Subjects

Professional Experience

You will design and implement evidence-informed learning interventions and use responsive, adaptive teaching strategies across curriculum learning areas that foster a learning-focused culture and professional relationships. You will demonstrate decision-making skills, reflexive practice, personal teaching growth and development. Noho Marae is an experiential learning of place-based histories, te reo Māori, tikanga marae, and Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership. This strand includes evidence-based inquiry, developing your skills as critically reflective and researching practitioners. You will propose, conduct, and present research into your developing professional practice; reflecting on your personal and professional philosophy of teaching.

The MTchgLn programmes meet the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand requirement for 80 days of professional practice/professional experience in schools/centres for a one-year programme.


All ITE applicants will be required to demonstrate English language competency and pass literacy and numeracy assessments prior to admission. These assessments will take place at the time of interview. These entry standards and processes ensure that enrolling student teachers meet the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand English language, literacy and numeracy competency requirement.

Once enrolled, your literacy and numeracy competency will again be assessed during the programme. All ITE students must pass these assessments to meet programme requirements. If you fail at the first attempt, support is available and you will be reassessed. You may not proceed in your ITE programme if you have not passed all competency assessments to meet the required pre-requisites for successive professional experience papers. The passing standards are:

ELIT 199 Literacy Assessment

Students are required to demonstrate a professional standard of written language at 650 or above on the TEC Adult Literacy scale.

EMAT 196 Mathematics Assessment (Secondary Specialists)

An understanding of the key skills, knowledge and vocabulary associated with mathematics to the upper band of Step 6 of TEC Adult Numeracy scale.

EMAT 197 Mathematics Assessment (ECE/Secondary)

An understanding of the key skills, knowledge and vocabulary associated with mathematics to Step 5 of TEC Adult Numeracy scale.

EMAT 199 Mathematics Assessment (Primary)

An understanding of the key skills, knowledge and vocabulary associated with mathematics to Step 6 of TEC Adult Numeracy scale.

This information must be read subject to the statement on our Copyright & Disclaimer page.

Regulations on this page are taken from the 2023 Calendar and supplementary material.

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