Long-term teacher supply issues remain

17 May 2017

New government measures to increase teacher supply have addressed some concerns in the sector, but housing, transport and income solutions are essential for long-term results.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart welcomed the government's interest in increasing the supply of teachers in hard-to-staff areas, but said that unless it was prepared to address the true reason why some areas were hard to staff, the problem would not go away.

“Infrastructure such as efficient transport and affordable housing are essential to keep teachers in areas like Auckland and Queenstown.

“And unless the modest pay levels of teachers are addressed, it will grow ever harder to attract and retain our best and brightest in teaching,” she said.

“Teachers are also discouraged by the huge workload and administrative burden, as well as the struggle of providing a full curriculum in under-resourced schools. These are all areas that must be addressed as part of a wider solution,” said Ms Stuart.

“We’ve been asking the ministry for a long-term workforce plan for many years – we can’t just pick away at this issue in a piecemeal fashion.”

Other features of today’s announcement:

  • A 17-year moratorium on new teacher education programmes will be lifted. The Ministry of Education put the moratorium in place in 2000 due to concerns about the quality and proliferation of programmes. However there is no evidence that these concerns been addressed, and could result in a proliferation of private providers offering low-quality courses.
  • An induction and mentoring programme for up to 700 provisionally certified teachers will be helpful for those teachers, but will not add to the supply.
  • Potentially cheaper Teacher Education Refresher courses is good news for teachers who have been very concerned that the high cost would be prohibitive, but we still need to see whether the final cost will be affordable.

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