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Call goes out to industry workers: Have you thought about teaching?

Clocktower from the Leith

Tuesday 7 September 2010 10:39am

Chefs, engineers, designers, builders and others with dreams of inspiring the next generation with their skills may now find it easier to qualify for a teaching career.

A nationwide shortage of fully qualified technology teachers has led to a collaboration between Otago Polytechnic and the University of Otago, resulting in ‘Capable Teachers’ – a new pathway for those with industry experience to become fully qualified teachers.

Capable Teachers centres on “assessment of prior learning” (APL) offered by Capable NZ at Otago Polytechnic. This internationally recognised process allows candidates to have their existing skills and knowledge assessed against formal qualifications. Students will then undertake any extra learning they need to achieve their food and technology-based degrees at Otago Polytechnic, followed by a Graduate Diploma in Teaching at the University of Otago.

“To enter a career as a secondary teacher, you not only need teaching qualifications, but you must also hold the equivalent of a degree. But many people now working in industries – from cooking to engineering – trained before such qualifications were available or thought necessary,” explains Capable Teacher project leader Don Lawson.

“Through properly recognising the knowledge they’ve gained over the course of their careers, however, people may be surprised to find they are already well on their way to achieving their degrees – and ultimately the qualifications they need to become teachers.”

To become a food, home economics or hospitality teacher, candidates will work towards Otago Polytechnic’s new Bachelor of Culinary Arts the first degree of its kind in New Zealand (subject to final approval).

Those wishing to become technology teachers in “hard materials” will study towards the Bachelor of Design (Product), while those wishing to focus on “soft materials”, including fashion and textiles, will work towards the Bachelor of Design (Fashion).

Existing food and technology teachers who do not hold a degree are also invited to upgrade their qualifications through this process.

“Technology teaching has come a long way since ‘manual’ classes at intermediate school,” adds Lawson. “It’s a dynamic curriculum area that involves creativity, design, problem-solving and lateral thinking – and challenges young people to apply these principles to real-life situations. Food and technology teachers often see a different side of students. For some students, it is quite literally where their passions, and careers, are born.”

Food and technology subjects are offered at every year level from Years 7 to 13 and have strong pathways into tertiary qualifications and professional careers, Lawson says.

For further information on the Capable Teachers programme, see


Don Lawson, Project Leader,
Capable Teachers
Tel 3 4811 865 or

Nicola Mutch,
Media and Communications,
Capable Teachers

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