By: John Cousins

Western Bay of Plenty Principals’ Association co-chairman Dane Robertson. Photo/George Novak

Fears are growing that young teachers may be put off shifting to Tauranga because of its reputation for unaffordable housing.

Dane Robertson, co-chairman of the Western Bay Principals’ Association, was commenting on the latest Demographia survey which named Tauranga as the12th least affordable city in the world from a sample of 293 cities – ahead of Auckland.

”It will have an impact, but not yet,” Robertson said.

The principal of Kaimai School said the consensus among principals was they would start the first term with all the staff they needed.

However, the lifestyle lure of the Western Bay of Plenty was at risk from the rising cost of housing.

”It will have an impact on new younger teachers coming into the area to buy their first home. Even rents are pretty high,” he said.

Robertson said three years ago a lot of Auckland teachers were applying for jobs in the Western Bay. One of the reasons was that teachers were paid the same no matter where they taught.

But that was changing as the rising cost of housing and busier roads undermined the area’s lifestyle attractions.

”The number of people applying for positions is smaller than what it used to be.”

He said that while it was not hard to fill fulltime positions, principals were struggling to find relievers. This was partly because restructuring of the Teachers Council had made it potentially more difficult for teachers to maintain their Teaching Certificate. Another reason was the Community of Learning initiative used a lot of relievers.

Community of Learning (Kahui Ako) was a group of education and training providers that formed around students’ learning pathways to help them achieve their full potential.

Otumoetai College’s new principal Russell Gordon said the college was starting the year with full staff, as was his former school, Mount Maunganui College.

”It’s fortunate that there is still a perception that Tauranga is affordable.”

However that could change once it got out that Tauranga’s median house price was 9.7 times the median income, he said.

The Demographia survey compared incomes to house prices to calculate how many years it would take to pay off a median-priced house if all the income was poured into the mortgage.

He was afraid Tauranga could get a reputation for unaffordable housing. It could snowball until teachers felt there was no point considering Tauranga.

Gordon said this would particularly impact on hard-to-fill positions like maths and Maori.

”We could soon be facing a shortage.”

He felt that the reason Tauranga housing was less affordable than Auckland was because Tauranga did not match Auckland wages.

Pillans Point School principal Matt Simeon said they had enough teachers but there had been a reduction in the number of applicants.

”We are nowhere near where Auckland is, but we are definitely heading that way. If property prices continue climbing we will go the same way as Auckland.”

Simeon said they would lose the drift of good quality teachers from Auckland. Another source of teachers was people returning from teaching at international schools overseas.

And it was not all lifestyle that attracted teachers to Tauranga, with some returning to the town they grew up in, he said.

The Ministry of Education said it had received no specific reports of teacher recruitment difficulties in Tauranga or the rest of the Western Bay.

It subsidised two specialist recruitment agencies to help schools that were having difficulty finding teachers.

Government’s new $9.5 million package to ease teacher supply pressures
– Support more graduates into permanent teaching positions
– Support experienced teachers back into the profession
– Recruit new graduates into teaching
Source: Ministry of Education

Source: Bay of Plenty Times


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