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August 19, 2013 | by  | in News |
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A Teaching Affair

A Victoria society is complaining of a “serious problem” after the University removed advertising for an event run for students which was hosted by a competitor.

The VUW Science Society posters accused the University of removing posters advertising a speaker night hosted last Wednesday. The speaker night was hosted by Teach First NZ to showcase the organisation’s scholarship offerings to students.

Teach First NZ is a not-for-profit organisation in partnership with the University of Auckland, which aims to reduce inequality by encouraging and training graduates to become teachers. While relatively new to New Zealand, it is modelled on overseas programmes and is currently being evaluated by the Ministry of Education.

President of the Science Society Jonathan Musther told Salient posters put up by the Society were “mysteriously removed” after Associate Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Dr Kathryn Sutherland had ordered staff to take them down.

“VUW is currently planning a postgraduate teaching qualification which, in their opinion, would compete with Teach First NZ. As a result, they are doing what they can to disrupt the event,” said Musther.

Dean of Education Associate Professor David Crabbe denied the similarities between the Teach First NZ study programme and Victoria’s own offerings, provided through the Faculty of Education.

“There are some fundamental differences between Victoria’s approach to preparing teachers and that taken by the Teach First NZ programme, including the latter’s practice of the trainees having full responsibility for classes after only six weeks of training.”

University management also downplayed the incident, with Sutherland—who ordered the posters’ removal—saying the decision was made due to the placement of the posters, not the content.

“Staff were asked to remove posters that were obscuring those promoting a careers event scheduled for the same evening. We apologise that some other Teach First NZ posters were also taken down,” Sutherland told Salient.

A University spokeswoman did not say the Science Society had breached any rules by putting up the posters, but added there is always a risk that posters put up on public boards may be removed or posted over by others. While posters cannot be put on boards designated for a particular purpose, such as careers, it is unclear whether this was the case for the Science Society.

Musther said the Science Society had a “duty to our members” which the University was trying to stifle through the removal of the posters.

“[The Science Society should] present all opportunities that are available, not just those offered, or sanctioned, by VUW.”

Teach First NZ was also refused a stand at the recent science careers expo, with Crabbe insinuating the organisation had not reached the standards required by the University.

“Places at the Victoria University Careers Expo are negotiated with the various exhibitors. We need to make sure that stand-holders at the event are offering credible, proven products that are relevant to our students,” Crabbe told Salient.

Teach First NZ scholarship information can be found at teachfirstnz.org, or by phone on (09) 336 0010.

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