One Year on – Insights from Overseas Trained Teachers

Published: 18 May 2021
Early learning

In June 2020, ERO published the report Overseas Trained Teachers: Adjusting to living and working in New Zealand. The report focused on the experiences of Overseas Trained Teachers (OTTs), who had recently arrived, in adjusting to working and living in New Zealand.

Given the Covid-19 global pandemic has placed strict restrictions on New Zealand’s borders, ERO returned to the same OTTs to check on how they were coping with the pandemic.

These OTTs do not represent all OTTs, but give insights into their ongoing experience of teaching and living in New Zealand, and how they were being affected by the pandemic.

OTTs who responded were still teaching in New Zealand

Three quarters of the 41 OTTs in the follow-up survey had lived in New Zealand for one to two years, while the remainder had lived in New Zealand for over two years.

The majority of these teachers (ninety percent) were still employed by the same school from a year earlier. Three moved schools because their contract had ended and one left to try a new school.

Almost all OTTs felt supported by their colleagues during Covid‑19

Ninety percent of these teachers had received support for their wellbeing from their school’s leadership in the week prior to being surveyed. They also felt they had got the support they needed to resolve challenges related to student learning and wellbeing.

“My school leadership worked extremely efficiently to make sure that students were able to transition to online learning.”

Eighty‑five percent felt supported and connected with their teaching team. Eighty‑eight percent felt their team worked together during Covid‑19 to support students.

“It is difficult for overseas trained teachers at the moment. Not knowing when we will be able to go home and visit family is definitely something that is affecting me and my wellbeing. It can affect me some weeks more than others. I am lucky to have staff at my school or are very caring and understanding.”

Most of the Overseas trained teachers who entered New Zealand Schools in 2018/29 felt they had strengthened their ties with the community through the Covid-19 response

Eighty‑five percent of OTTs felt that the Covid-19 response had strengthened their ties with the community.

Ninety percent felt the relationship with their students had not been impacted due to Covid‑19, while just under half felt their relationship with students improved during Covid-19. Ninety‑five percent felt confident to support their students’ wellbeing during Covid-19.

“understanding that we have all been in this together {helps to support my students}. That challenges will be faced, but how can we work through them together.”

Eighty‑three percent of these teachers had reviewed the learning goals of their students, in response to Covid‑19, and eighty‑five percent felt confident their students could catch-up with their learning.

“My students have worked really hard this year, given the interruptions.”

Ninety‑three percent felt happy at work, and positive about the things in their life being worthwhile. One‑fifth did not feel their workload was manageable.

Challenges remain

The most common concern this cohort of teachers identified was supporting their students’ learning, followed by their personal wellbeing. OTTs commented on the challenge of being away from their home country, including concerns for their family overseas, and in some cases whether they will be able to stay in New Zealand given the precarious nature of their visa status.

The greatest challenge that OTTs saw in teaching for the remainder of the year was making sure their students made sufficient progress, and concerns of any further disruption to learning.

“Going into another lockdown would be extremely difficult as our Year 8's are busy with their final exhibitions.”