Time to prioritise teacher supply and retention
Dear Minister Hipkins
As a leading boys’ school in Christchurch we were pleased to see the initial steps you have taken to start conversations about the future direction of education. We support the direction you have set for inclusion, diversity and adaptability within a high-quality education system that has both a future focus and successful outcomes for all. We are also pleased to see your acknowledgement of the unhelpful impact of the accountability and compliance policy settings with respect to student assessment, on providing students with a meaningful and modern education.
As a board we are very proud of the involvement and contribution that two of our Christchurch Boys' High School students, Rani Hammond and Rapheal Franks made at the recent Christchurch Education Hui. They greatly enjoyed the opportunity to participate and provide feedback following the hui. We were heartened by Raphael and Rani's report back; that hui delegates saw wellbeing as the number one priority for our future education system.
The focus on people, human characteristics and the wellbeing of our students, in a world that continues to be technologically driven, is an essential component of Christchurch Boys' High School's mission, and is seen by the board and our school community, as central to education. The board firmly believe that the essence of education is caring teachers working alongside students as mentors and influencers.
The board are deeply concerned about current teacher retention and supply, and critically aware of the importance of being able to employ and support high quality teachers. We are very conscious that in many subject areas (Te Reo Māori, mathematics, commerce, science and technology) we are one resignation away from crisis.
Non-existent teacher supply in digital technology has already led the school to outsource (at a significant cost to the school) this vital area of the curriculum, though we remain unable to satisfy demand.
We therefore request that as Minister of Education, you prioritise your efforts and resources on teacher supply and retention as part of your overall review of education.
With a 40 percent decrease in those training to be teachers and 50 percent of new teachers leaving the profession within five years, the issue of teacher salaries is a key component that needs to be addressed.
We urge you to address the current poor state of teacher salaries. Raising teacher salaries will be the most effective, long term improvement to ensure that teaching is seen as a quality career choice for young people, and to ensure we retain teachers in their profession, resulting in improving educational outcomes for Zealand.
We have recently undertaken an analysis of teachers who have left our own school. 89 percent who have left, have done so to a private school with salary inducement being a key factor. This is having a significant impact on our ability as a state school to retain quality teachers and maintain a high-quality education.
The board and/or headmaster would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss this further. We remain ambitious for the healthy character development and strong educational outcomes of our students and wish to support you as you go about achieving this for all New Zealand students.
Our current and future education system relies on having high quality teachers working alongside our students and, as argued by Bali Haque (2014), a top of the scale teacher earning $100,000 per annum, is not unreasonable nor unattainable.