At the moment schools are sorting out their timetables for next year. To do this, they need to have the teachers lined up and ready to go.
And the word we’re getting from a number of secondary schools is that they’re struggling to get the staff they need. The pressure in Auckland, with ridiculous housing costs, is one part of it. Another, all around the country, is finding teachers of subjects like science, maths, Te Reo Māori and technology. I heard recently about a secondary school with no trained maths teachers lined up for next year after several just left.
Some of the suggestions for solving these have been an Auckland allowance (like exists in London) and reintroduction of scholarships/traineeships for particular shortage subject areas.
There’s another possible solution though that’s pretty much taboo to talk about – but it’s staring us in the face and should certainly be put in the mix.
Here’s a hint.
(Data from OECD Education At A Glance 2015. Indicator D3 How much are teachers paid? http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933286177 - in $US with purchasing power parity. Based on earnings from 2012)
What this shows (and not only how low our salaries are) is that New Zealand is pretty unusual in the way that teachers in primary and secondary schools are paid the same. The OECD average is that secondary are paid around 7.5% more than primary.
By suggesting that we should look at this I’m not saying that primary teaching is less important, or an easier job or anything like that. It’s about recognising that it’s harder to recruit people into secondary teaching – as some stories from earlier this year showed. This one, on secondary teacher shortages and this one, on graduates from primary teacher training not being able to find jobs are examples of the different issues in the different sectors.
We’ve got a working party on secondary teacher supply beginning soon, which came out of the STCA round. It would be worth considering this issue as part of the mix.
For some background, read more about entrenchment here.