The Training of Primary Teachers
Candidates for entry to the two-year teachers' college course for primary teachers must possess the Endorsed School Certificate Examination or, preferably, possess some higher academic qualification. Of the 1965 entrants 55 per cent had University Entrance or a higher qualification. The minimum age for admission to training is usually 17 to 18 years, although numbers of candidates are older than this. The two-year training course is followed by a year's teaching as a probationary assistant in charge of a small class in a public primary school under the supervision of the head teacher and one of the district inspectors. The course can, however, be extended to a third year at a teachers' college for specialised study in music, speech therapy, or university work. From 1965 opportunities for full-time university work for primary trainees in particular were improved by the introduction of a new Teachers' University Studentship under which selected trainees may have a total of up to three years of full-time university study before, during, or after their professional studies at a teachers' college. The two-year college course for primary teachers covers the following compulsory studies: spoken and written English; education and the principles and practice of teaching, including studies and related practical training in child development, with special reference to either the five- to eight-year age group, or the eight- to 13–year age group; the organisation, social life, curriculum, and methods of the primary and intermediate school, with special reference to either the class range Primers to Standard 2, or the class range Standard 2 to Form II; physical education and health education; and music.
In addition, a student is required to pass in four optional studies (“credits”) selected from English literature, history, geography, science, mathematics, art and crafts, physical education, and music (the last two at a more advanced level than in the compulsory studies listed above). Other credit courses can, with the Director's approval, be offered. Passes in units for university degrees can be recognised as credits.
In their second year, students specialise in either junior or senior class teaching. It is in the “credit” studies, however, that the greatest flexibility is introduced into the course. Students with good academic qualifications and ability are encouraged to undertake university studies, lecture fees being paid by the Department of Education.
The student must satisfy the principal that he has reached a satisfactory minimum standard in those of the optional subjects — history, geography, science, art and crafts, and mathematics — that are not being taken as credit courses. There are at least 400 hours of practical training including child study, observation in schools, and practice in teaching. For this work each college has associated with it normal schools and “model” schools. Most of the model schools are organised on the lines of small country schools.
The normal schools and model schools are under the control of the principal. They are, in the main, demonstration schools. Students have their own practical teaching when they are posted to the classrooms of associate teachers in ordinary primary schools for periods of a month or six weeks.
Each college is staffed on the basis of one lecturer to about 16 students (the principal and vice-principal are excluded from the calculation). There are principal lecturers and senior lecturers. Appointments are recommended to the Education Board by a special appointments committee. The appointment of principals and vice-principals requires the approval of the Minister of Education.