Teacher Training on the job a winner at Dilworth

Date: 10 Oct 2023

Josh Devine has spent this year at Dilworth, learning on the job as part of the Auckland School's Teacher Training Programme (ASTTP). This initiative, in partnership with the University of Waikato, aims to attract people with a variety of life skills into teaching. An increasing number of Auckland schools are joining the programme which is aimed at helping to meet the demand for quality teaching staff.

The scheme provides a pathway into teaching from other careers, as well as for graduates. From a financial point of view, it is an attractive option as fees are covered and there is a stipend payment of $12500. But from the perspective of a trainee like Josh, there are many more benefits to studying this way.

Dilworth joined the programme last year, and Josh is the first full-time trainee to be hosted by the school. Tonia Calverley, Director of Teaching and Learning at Dilworth and the teacher liaison for ASTTP, recognized the benefits of this programme early on. She believes the exposure to working in a school from the beginning of the year is a real plus for participants. She has observed that they "get to experience school life and when the time comes to start teaching, have a depth of experience from being embedded in a school."

Tonia is excited to see the kinds of people with great work and life experience who could be attracted to teaching coming through this scheme. In Dilworth's case, this might include Old Boys or parents who have a long association with the school and have always had a yearning to teach but need impetus. Tonia says, "You might be a research chemist, a digital specialist - whatever your passion - but you want a career change. This scheme gives you the chance to do that."

Josh Devine had a successful career in the NZ Army straight out of school. He was focused on an army career and became an armoured combat specialist over his six years there. However, sport, especially rugby, had always been a strong theme in his life. "Rugby is an obsession that runs through our family from Grandad to Dad – there are photos of me at 5 or 6 years old with a rugby ball." So he left the army to pursue his dream of playing professional rugby in the UK even though he admits, "I wasn't as good as I thought I was, but I ended up semi-pro, had a great time, and made lifelong friends at my UK club."

He returned to NZ when he was 26 and he knew he needed to knuckle down and find a new career. His love of sports took him to Auckland University, where he attained a degree in Sports, Health, and Education. He took up a volunteer role coaching rugby at Dilworth and loved it. Then, encouraged by Director of Rugby Gareth Pickering, he heard about the opportunity to be part of the ASTTP program which he says "seemed like a no-brainer" to him.

Josh says he has been so fortunate to have Keith Taylor, Dilworth's Head of Health and Physical Education, as his mentor. "I shadow Keith like a puppy and ask him too many questions, but he always makes time to answer. He has many tips and insights and isn't afraid to give me criticism when I need it.” Balancing study with work is something he finds can be a challenge but it is outweighed by the onsite experience which is invaluable. "The time I spend in school massively helps me learn to build relationships with the students. It's practical experience on how to manage.”

The ASTTP scheme also includes practical experience at another school as part of the year-long programme. Josh recently completed a 5-week stint at Mount Albert Grammar (MAGS). He said it was "an awesome experience, working with experienced professionals in a large school where I learned a great deal in a different environment”. On top of this, he has also taken part in 13 professional development days at other schools, where he has been able to observe different lessons as well as collaborate with other teacher trainees on the programme.

Josh believes his career in the army and his general life experience give him a lot to offer the teaching profession. "I've seen and done a lot, met people from all walks of life, especially in the army, and learned how to walk in someone else's shoes, which is often vastly different from my own life." He believes this will make him a better teacher and that he can use his passion for rugby and sports to help make a difference for the boys at Dilworth. He hopes to be offered a position at the school next year.

"I've fallen in love with Dilworth, the people in the sports department, and the ethos of the school. Playing sports has given me so much, and I want to find a way to allow the boys to find the same happiness."

Josh acknowledges that the programme is challenging, with a high workload, especially for someone like himself who also wants to keep up with his rugby. However, he believes he will be a better teacher because of it, as he acknowledges the workload pressure has created personal improvement for him.

Both Josh and Tonia believe this scheme is a great way to create opportunities for wonderful aspiring teachers.

You can find out more about this scheme here