Teacher shortages “a perfect storm” – principals

An annual survey of secondary school principals has found schools across the country are experiencing some of the worst teacher shortages since surveys began.

New Zealand Secondary Principals’ Council chair James Morris says there is a perfect storm happening in education right now, and our young people are bearing the brunt of it.

“There is a wave of teachers about to retire and I’m embarrassed to say that we have reached the point where we are begging them to stay on for another term, another year, until the crisis is over,” he said.

“Young graduates no longer want to enter the profession, the pay is far too low compared to what they earn in other careers and, of the new teachers who do enter the profession, nearly half burn out and leave within five years.”

Auckland Secondary School Principals’ Association vice president Richard Dykes agrees.

 “Principals are increasingly frustrated and concerned that the teacher shortage is getting worse, not better. I want to place highly skilled and motivated teachers in front of my students, but this is getting harder and harder. I’m increasingly hearing stories from our members of schools having to cut subject choices, increase class sizes and timetable teachers into classes outside of their specialist curriculum area.”

“Auckland Principals want to provide a world-class education system for our students and their families, but the worsening shortage of quality New Zealand teachers with the right skills and experience, is making this ever more difficult,” he said.

Morris and Dykes agree the shortages are at crisis level and urge the government to put in place sustainable ways to attract and keep teachers in the profession.

James Morris small

New Zealand Secondary Principals’ Council chair James Morris.

Key findings

  • Principals are more negative about the recruitment and retention of teachers than they have been since the end of the 1990s.
  • About a third of advertised teaching jobs had no suitable applicants.
  • Of all the teachers who left the profession, 40 percent were retiring.
  • There is a further jump in teachers being used out of their specialist area because specialists could not be found. Over 40 percent of schools have had to do so this year – the highest recorded since these surveys began.
  • 8 percent of schools have no relievers. The average number of relievers is the lowest recorded.
  • 20 percent of schools had to cancel classes or transfer to a form of distance learning because a suitable specialist teacher could not be found, the highest level since 1998.
  • Schools mostly use teachers trained in PE, primary and social studies to cover classes and the classes most covered by non-specialists are Maths, English and Science.

Last modified on Tuesday, 10 July 2018 11:50