In search of new horizons

21st March 1997 at 00:00
New Zealand is an extremely attractive option for many British teachers, drawn by the prospect of a beautiful country, a friendly population, a nice climate and traffic-free roads. Teachers in particular are wanted in shortage subject areas such as science and mathematics, in the primary sector, and in hard-to-staff rural schools.

The financial inducements, too, are considerable. Teachers have recently got a pay rise of 12 per cent, and the Government has announced that all foreign teachers will be eligible for a payment of NZ$3,000 (#163;1,310). The upshot of this is a free trip to New Zealand, and a salary that is equivalent to British levels of pay.

However, if you are a prospective migrant, beware: the pitfalls facing teachers entering the system are considerable, and not always obvious in advance. Even before leaving Britain you can expect to jump through some very large hoops and overcome some fairly major bureaucratic obstacles.

On arrival in New Zealand you are likely to find that payment of salary is delayed unless appropriate measures are taken before departure from Britain. Furthermore, there seems to be little interaction between the various government departments you have to deal with: you will have to send documentation (and money) to the Immigration Service, the Teacher Registration Board, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, the Inland Revenue, School Support Ltd (the privatised agency that deals with salaries), as well as the employing school.

Each has to be contacted separately, and, if one heeds the salutary warning from the recent case of the Immigration Company that recently collapsed owing money to a large number of migrants, you cannot even depend on getting someone else to organise the process for you.

Doing it yourself remains the cheapest option, providing that you are prepared to read the plethora of official documents and invest some time in getting it right. Knowing the potential pitfalls in advance will facilitate your navigation through the bureaucratic morass, ensure you arrive smoothly, and get paid your rightful salary from the outset. The following steps may be helpful:

* Jobs are advertised in the Education Gazette. This is available from: Legislation Services, GP Print Ltd, PO Box 12-418, Wellington, New Zealand.Tel 0064 4 496 5694 or on the Internet at: http: but please note that all jobs advertised as "regraded" are not available to outside applicants.

* Obtain application forms from the Teacher Registration Board, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, and the Immigration Service (either work visa or residence visas depending on the length of your proposed stay). Details are available from the New Zealand High Commission, Haymarket, London SW1Y 4TQ.

* Get the following documents:

1) Three copies of all of your qualification certificate s certified by a solicitor.

2) Three sets of testimonials from all previous teaching employment (including your present position), stating length of service and suitability as a teacher.

3) Two sets of official course transcripts from all universities attended.

(Full details of what is required can be found out from the official forms for each agency. It is also worthwhile hanging on to a spare photocopy of each document.)

* Get your teaching qualifications registered a year in advance. This is done by sending certified copies of certificates, degree course transcripts, and confirmation of teaching service to the Teacher Registration Board.

* Allow at least four months if you are applying for a residence visa. Before you apply, you need to obtain police certificates and undergo a medical, so you will need to allow extra time for this. A work visa takes less time to obtain, but you will need to have a written offer of a job before you apply in this case (this needs to specify the tenure of employment, and salary details). For both types of visa you will need to supply copies of certificates and employment testimonials.

* Register your qualifications with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. Again they will require certified copies of certificates, degree course transcripts, and confirmation of teaching service, although in this case it will be processed quite quickly: a couple of months should suffice.

* In order to ensure that your first salary is paid promptly, you need to ensure that yet another agency, School Support Ltd, is fully appraised of your details. They will require a completed application form (available from your school), and copies of your Teacher Registration certificate, NZQA certificate and employment testimonials. If they do not receive proof of previous employment or qualifications (they will not accept your certificates) then they will pay you at the minimum rate (less than half the top of the main scale).

* You should also ensure that your school has ordered the form for claiming relocation money from the Government, so this can be dispatched as soon as possible. You will need to attach receipts.

* At the earliest possible time after arrival you should register with the Inland Revenue in the town where you are going to teach. This will require a visit in person, and don't forget your passport. If you delay until you start work, your pay may be delayed.

* Don't be put off by the paperwork; the end result is worthwhile.

Mark Priestley recently moved to New Zealand to teach

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