What does the government really think about the supply crisis?
While Nikki Kaye has spent the whole time since she became Minister talking about teacher supply, and made a bunch of announcements on it just last week, this morning the PM said there's no problem, and it’s just seasonal variation.
To recap, last Monday Kaye announced an extra $3 mil for the Auckland beginning teacher project, and to reintroduce the international relocation grant. This was on top of the $9 mil teacher supply package from last year.
Then a couple of days later, at a meeting with the Auckland Primary Principals’ Association, the Minister, off the cuff, announced that the voluntary bonding scheme will be available to all Auckland schools from next year, at a potential cost of around $3-5 mil a year.
On Sunday, at the National Party campaign launch, the policy to offer a second language to all primary age students, as well as increase maths capacity of teachers and introduce digital academies for secondary schools was announced by English and Kaye. All of these plans rely to some extent on a supply of teachers with the skills to teach these things.
English’s claim on TVNZ this morning that “There isn’t really a bad teacher shortage” and “At this time of the year, with the winter effect, there’s always a bit of pressure on schools,” in the most charitable reading, makes it look like he’s not talking to his Minister of Ed.
Before there was any ‘winter effect’, back in May, Kaye said that, “We are aware that there are subjects and locations around the country, particularly here in Auckland, where at the moment it can be difficult to recruit.” That was downplaying it, even then.
To be less charitable, it sounds like he’s making stuff up.
The figures speak for themselves. The Ministry’s own data shows that we aren’t graduating enough teachers to fill vacancies caused by people leaving. The dip from 2011 onward in the graph below hasn’t picked up in 2016 and 2017.
Even Minister Kaye's answer, a few piecemeal, small-change, tweaks is nowhere near enough to solve this, but the PM’s response, to shrug off the problem, will make it much, much worse.
For more information, check PPTA's 2017 staffing survey report