A new degree programme offered at EIT Hawke’s Bay was the springboard for Janet Ashcroft’s move to New Zealand.
As would-be immigrants from England, Jan and husband Pete had pinpointed Hawke’s Bay as their preferred destination. The couple toured New Zealand two years ago, encouraged by glowing reports from their globe-trotting older son Andrew.
“As soon as we arrived, we felt it was an incredible place,” Jan says. “Pete and I like to get involved in sports and other activities and there are so many opportunities in New Zealand compared to the UK.”
Hawke’s Bay’s clean environment and friendly people particularly appealed.
Jan recently started at EIT as senior lecturer for the Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education). The new degree has attracted strong interest, and places for the first intake quickly filled up.
The field-based teacher education programme provides a balance between theory, self-directed learning and practice. It allows students the opportunity to undertake study and gain a teaching qualification while employed or working voluntarily in an early childhood centre.
Jan has an extensive background in early childhood education and previously lectured in Childhood and Family Studies and was Route Leader for the Master of Arts in Education (Early Years) at the University of Wolverhampton.
She has also worked as an inspector assessing the standard of early foundation education in British schools and pre-schools.
Her research interest in childhood health and well-being in early years care and education settings recently saw her involved with colleagues at Swansea University in an international project looking at outdoor play.
She is also interested in the role of Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, Facebook and other social networking sites in enhancing students’ experience of higher education.
Jan and Pete are enjoying an apartment lifestyle while they get to know Hawke’s Bay better. She’s looking forward to rock climbing and cycling the Rotary Pathway network while Pete, a pilot, has joined a local flying club and will be lending a helping hand at vintage air events for Napier’s Art Deco Weekend.
Longer term, Andrew hopes to relocate to New Zealand while younger son Robert will visit his parents later this year.
Right now, though, Jan is busy preparing to welcome her class onto the EIT campus. “It’s going to be a big learning curve for everybody,” she says of the new degree programme. “We have a strong and very close team in place so we’re very positive about what we will be offering the students.”