By: Simon Collins
The Government aims to recruit at least 400 teachers from overseas to fill desperate shortages in schools at the beginning of next year.
The new target is more than twice the 183 immigrant and expatriate Kiwi teachers who have been approved for relocation grants to move to New Zealand since last December.
School principals are welcoming the recruitment campaign as “helpful” but say it is not yet clear whether it will be enough to meet a shortage caused by a slump in domestic teacher trainees, exacerbated in Auckland by high housing costs which are driving many teachers out of the city.
Schools are advertising 1591 vacancies in the Education Gazette, including 473 in Auckland.
Auckland Secondary Principals’ Association president Richard Dykes said it was hard to comment on the new target without knowing whether the overseas teachers would teach hard-to-staff subjects such as science, technology, maths and te reo Māori.
“Clearly the Ministry [of Education] is putting more into it, and that has to make a difference, and for that principals will be grateful,” he said.
The ministry has helped his school, Glendowie College, to recruit a NZ-trained teacher from Australia to teach te reo Māori after he said he might not be able to offer the subject next year because of the teacher shortage.
NZ Principals’ Federation president Whetu Cormick said the new campaign would be “helpful”, but he said some Auckland primary school principals were reporting zero applicants for jobs listed in the Gazette.
The ministry’s associate deputy secretary for workforce, John McKeefry, told principals that the ministry had contracted a third agency, Randstad Education, to recruit teachers from overseas in addition to the existing agencies Education Personnel and Oasis Education.
“We are aiming to attract at least an additional 400 quality teachers into primary and secondary schools for the start of term one 2019 into Auckland and the rest of New Zealand,” he said.
“This will include bringing home New Zealand teachers working overseas, and attracting overseas-trained teachers.”
The Education Minister in the previous National Government, Nikki Kaye, announced a $2 million fund in August last year to pay relocation grants of up to $5000 for immigrants and $7000 for returning Kiwis to up to 100 teachers relocating between last December and June this year and a further 100 in the year to June 2019.
The scheme also pays up to $3000 to cover each school’s recruitment costs. Total costs so far have averaged below the maximum of $10,000 for each teacher, and the Government has allocated a further $600,000 to it, so the scheme will now fund at least 160 new teachers in the year to next June.
Ministry acting deputy secretary Pauline Cleaver said 183 grants have been approved since last December – 126 to immigrants and 57 to returning Kiwis.
Most of the immigrants have come from Britain (43), South Africa (34), Canada (11), Australia (10), Ireland (9) and the United States (6).
Five immigrants who received the grants and spoke to the Herald all said they did not know about the grants until after they decided to move here, but all said the grants were helpful.
Alex Johnson, a 35-year-old graphics technology teacher from Britain who started at Auckland Grammar School in January, said she wanted to work overseas after working for seven years as an interior architect and then teaching for one and a half years.
“One of the reasons I decided to train as a teacher was so that I could travel and live abroad more easily,” she said.
“At the moment I’m seeing it as a permanent move. I’m very happy here.”
She said she was attracted to New Zealand by an education system similar to Britain’s and “the outdoor lifestyle”.
Tina Utting, a 40-year-old British teacher who was health and information technology (IT) co-ordinator at a school in Wales before taking a job teaching IT at Macleans College, said she wanted to escape excessive paperwork in British schools.
“The teaching itself I find much more enjoyable than at home, there is a lot less administration,” she said.
“In the UK, it’s very data-driven, there’s a lot of paperwork, a lot of meetings.”
She and her husband, football coach Roushan Johnson, had just had a baby and felt it was the right time to move, along with their 14-year-old son. They spent about £20,000 ($39,000) moving here, so the $5000 grant was helpful.
Source: NZ Herald