NZEI Te Riu Roa says New Zealand’s teacher shortage is “moving from a crisis to a disaster”.

The union made the claim based on figures provided by the Ministry of Education. Based on the figures that show New Zealand will have an extra 40,000 students by 2030, NZEI projects there will be as many as an additional 1815 teachers required.

NZEI President Lynda Stuart said the new figures were a worrying addition to growing crisis.

“Student numbers for teacher training have plunged by 40% in the past five years, a bubble of baby boomers is nearing retirement, and the huge workload and low pay is pushing many out of the profession within a few years of graduating. And that’s before we factor in an extra 40,000 children,” she says.

However, the Ministry has rejected the union’s claims that the Government is not addressing teacher supply issues.

Deputy Secretary of Early Learning and Student Achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid says the Ministry is aware of the projections.

“That’s why in Budget 2018, $370 million was set aside to fund 1500 more teacher places by 2021 to meet population growth,” she says.

“Addressing teacher supply is a priority. Last year the Education Minister announced a $9.5 million teacher supply package to address immediate pressures by supporting more graduates into permanent teaching positions, supporting experienced teachers back into the profession and recruiting new graduates into teaching. A further $20 million was provided in Budget 2018 to continue to fund these initiatives over the next four years.”

In order to address the teacher supply crisis, the Ministry says it has:

– funded 890 teacher education refresher places to remove cost barriers so that teachers can return to teaching faster;

– paid 137 overseas relocation grants making it easier for New Zealand teachers to return home;

– expanded the Auckland Beginner Teachers programme to 60 places in 2018 with another 60 places available in 2019;

– increased the number of new teachers training through Teach First NZ to 80 in both 2018 and 2019;

– expanded the Voluntary Bonding Scheme to encourage new teachers to work in decile 2 and 3 Auckland schools, and nationwide in identified subjects and Māori Medium Kura. Around 300 teachers who started their role in 2018 will be eligible.

“To attract people to the teaching profession we have proposed increasing salaries for new teachers in the current bargaining round,” says MacGregor-Reid

“We have offered a cumulative increase of 14.7 percent for graduates with a teaching degree ($47,980 to $55,030) over three years and a 14.2 percent cumulative increase for graduates with a subject degree and graduate teaching diploma ($49,588 to $56, 638) over three years.

“That means the starting salary for qualified teachers would be $50,280, increasing to $55,030 in 2020.

“We’re also working with the sector to develop a workforce strategy, which includes improving recruitment and retention – the first education workforce strategy in 30 years,” she says.

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