West coast schools sign up to support new teachers
All four secondary and area schools on the West Coast have shown their commitment to the future of the profession by signing up the Promise to New Teachers.
PPTA’s Promise to New Teachers was developed as a way for schools to show their commitment to new teachers, giving them the working conditions that they need to thrive. Most teachers (77%) are employed in a temporary position and research shows teachers who do not have supportive and positive experiences in their first teaching jobs are less likely to stay in the profession.
West Coast establishing teachers co-ordinator and Westland High School branch chair Michael Waller said getting schools to sign up to the promise was a no-brainer.
“Why would you not? We need the best quality teachers here on the coast and you don’t get that by offering less than the best quality contracts.”
Supporting beginning teachers to ease staffing shortages
Once the headmasters/principals heard about the promise and about PPTA’s endorsement of their employment practices once they signed, they were very keen, Michael said.
“Staffing is tough everywhere at the moment with less and less people willing to risk a career in education. Principals are looking for any advantage they can get at a time where staffing shortages are the norm,” he said.
“There is nothing more important than the staff at a school. Without qualified and dedicated staff we can’t bring out the best in our students. Whatever we can do to give staff security in their jobs means we are freeing all that energy wasted year on year on the fear of ‘do I have a job? Do I need to start over again?’ Instead that energy can be focused on what we are good at. Bringing out the best in our kids.”
"The morally right thing to do"
Westland High School principal Iain Murray agrees, saying signing up to the Promise to New Teachers was the “morally right thing to do.”
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult for teachers, including young teachers, coming into teaching. It’s a challenging and complex environment for them and the young people they teach. It isn’t always easy for young people these days. It’s not just teaching content, there is more social work involved. Skillsets are changing. It’s not just about going to university and getting a science degree and a teaching qual.
They have to engage with the community in a way that produces great outcomes for our youngsters and to do that they need mentoring and support. It’s a good thing to do. It’s the right thing to do, he said.
You need to look after beginning teachers
Iain also believes teachers’ wages have stagnated and that the salary a new teacher receives does not do enough to encourage people into the profession.
“Teaching is a profession that has a huge impact on the lives of New Zealanders and the economy. You need to get the right people supporting them to do the best for our young people.”
Iain recommends principals throughout the country take up the Promise to New Teachers. “It’s a no-brainer if you really think about it. You need to look after beginning teachers. We need them in the profession. It’s a partnership. I see it as a big whanau. At times we have our problems but we need to support each other through them.
Talking to staff about what's important to them
His advice to principals wanting to support beginning teachers and staff in general is to talk to them.
“Talk to the union reps, make sure you are a union member yourself. Talk to staff about what’s important to them and find out what support they need. You need to listen and be empathetic to people’s needs.”
Michael agrees. “Remind your leadership team and board that staff without one eye on an exit strategy can have two eyes on doing what you need them to do, bring out the best in their students,” he said.
West Coast schools signed up to Promise to New Teachers
Westland High School
South Westland Area School
Buller High School
Greymouth High School
A full list of schools signed up to the Promise to New Teachers and resources for introducing it into your school can be found on the PPTA Network of Establishing Teachers community page.