More than half of Auckland primary schools have been allocated fewer teachers for next year, despite growing school rolls.
School principals say provisional 2020 staffing allocations, issued last week by the Ministry of Education, fall well short of what’s needed for growing rolls and will worsen an already-critical teacher shortage.
Auckland Primary Principals’ Association president Heath McNeil said 52.7 per cent of 241 schools that replied to a survey this week have been allocated fewer teachers next year than this year. Another 27.8 per cent have been allocated about the same and only 19.5 per cent have been allocated more teachers.
Only 51.5 per cent of principals said they have been given the staffing they expected. The other 48.5 per cent said they would ask for a review.
The low allocations come despite an extra 14,500 students (5.5 per cent) swelling Auckland school rolls in the five years to July last year, and Ministry of Education projections of 60,000 more students by 2030.
Last year the ministry said an extra 90 primary teachers (0.8 per cent) and 130 secondary teachers (1.7 per cent) would be needed in 2020 across Auckland.
• Auckland schools struggling to find teachers in dire shortage
• Auckland high schools face 10% teacher shortage within seven years
• Govt plans 61 new schools – but only one new one funded
National Party education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye said is was “unbelievable” that half the schools in Auckland were getting fewer teachers at a time of rapid population growth.
However, the ministry’s acting deputy secretary Pauline Cleaver said the provisional allocations provided an extra 59 (0.4 per cent) fulltime-equivalent teachers across Auckland.
She said the provisional figures would be adjusted in March after schools submit their actual rolls at the start of next year.
“Schools will then receive either an increased entitlement if their roll has increased enough or the same entitlement if their roll remains the same or decreases,” she said.
“Schools are also able to ask us for additional roll growth funding throughout the year.”
“There is usually a percentage of schools that will need to do roll reviews, but not anywhere near what we are seeing this year,” he said.
McNeil’s school, Ormiston Primary, has seen “exponential” roll growth from 141 when it opened in 2015 to 618 last year and is now 818 – but has lost 0.6 of a fulltime teaching role.
He expects further roll growth in the next year of “conservatively 100 students and probably 150”.
“We don’t even have the buildings for them,” he said. “We already have 160 students utilising the Junior College next-door every day for the last year, because we have run out of room.”
Russell Thomas, who chairs the boards of both schools, said his son Noah, 9, attends all his classes in a junior college learning space but had to go back to the primary school at break time.
“The kids have to run backwards and forwards between the two schools. It’s not the ideal situation at all,” he said.
Thomas said the school was advertising for three teachers for 2020, but only one had been funded by the ministry’s provision allocations.
“We are going to have to deal with it at a local level,” he said.
“But having to do that means that something else will be missing – maybe additional resources or educational trips. That sort of thing will probably not be able to happen because we are having to resource the extra teachers.”
McNeil said some other schools could not afford to carry the cost of extra teachers.
“For a school that can’t afford that, it’s trying to manage as best they can,” he said.
“Class sizes will go up in those schools. It will add further stress to our teachers.”
Cleaver said the provisional allocations were based on the rolls that each school was expected to have in October next year.
She said school rolls were projected to increase in 2020 by 1632 (0.6 per cent) in Auckland and by 2541 (0.5 per cent) in the rest of the country.
The staffing formula has produced an increase of 162 teachers (0.5 per cent) outside Auckland, in line with the higher rolls. But the increase of only 59 teachers (0.4 per cent) is less than the roll growth, probably because Auckland schools are larger.
Ministry deputy secretary Katrina Casey said the process followed this year was “the same as for previous years and includes input from our regional offices”.
“If schools dispute the provisional roll we use to calculate their provisional staffing entitlement, they can apply for a review,” she said.
“Boards of trustees need to demonstrate that our estimate of their provisional roll is at least 5 per cent different to their own estimate. If they can provide evidence which supports this we will approve an increased provisional staffing entitlement.”