By Simon Collins

The survey of 450 new teachers in the primary and intermediate teachers’ union, the NZ Educational Institute, has found that two-thirds of them, including 94 per cent of male teachers under 35, are either leaving or thinking about leaving Auckland.

Forty per cent of female teachers under 30 are deferring having their own children due to Auckland’s high cost of living.

And 64 per cent of all the new teachers have given up hope of ever owning their own homes.

The exodus of young teachers from Auckland is a major factor in a mounting teacher shortage in the city which Auckland Primary Principals Association head Kevin Bush describes as the worst he has seen in 30 years.

More than half of schools surveyed by the association this month say they have three or four teacher vacancies for the third term, which begins today.

The latest survey is of Auckland members of the Educational Institute’s New Educator Network, who are mostly new teachers in their first two years of teaching. About 10 per cent of the sample are still in training.

Second-year Greenhithe School teacher Natasha Jones, 25, and physiotherapist Adam Herbison, 26, say they are ready to have children soon but can’t afford to have them in Auckland.

“We want to have kids soon. We want to get married. It’s just like we can’t,” says Jones.

“I’m actually putting off having a child because I don’t want to have a child in Auckland.”

The couple has saved towards a house for four years but can’t see any hope of buying in Auckland.

“We should be looking to buy our own property, but the best place we have been looking at is still $500,000 and that’s on the other side of Auckland,” says Jones.

“We can’t afford to live by ourselves. We are paying almost $1,000 in rent between five of us. That to me is dead money.”

Jones and Herbison are looking at moving to Kerikeri, where they have family members: “Or to be honest, anywhere other than Auckland.

“We are definitely looking at moving out of town, but because my partner has just graduated, it’s not that easy getting a deposit,” says Jones.

Angela Hampton, 30, a third-year teacher at Somerville Intermediate in Howick, told her principal on Friday that she would have to look for a new job outside Auckland at the end of this year.

“I love my school,” she says. “I have been at Somerville since I started, and the staff there, I call them my Auckland family. I’m really blessed with that job.

“When I told the principal he said, ‘I’ll do anything to keep you here.’ But I think he is aware of the problem in Auckland. I said, ‘I don’t want to leave but I can’t actually afford to stay’.”

Hampton, who worked in banking in Britain before coming home to train as a teacher, says she had “gone backwards” financially, paying 40 per cent of her net income in rent.

“I have a huge financial stress by being in Auckland,” she says.

She is looking for a new job in the Waikato or Bay of Plenty and believes she will be able to buy a home there within five years.

Balmoral School principal Malcolm Milner, a union spokesman on the issue, says most beginning teachers at his school are still living with their parents.

“How long can that last when you know they want their independence?” he asks.

He urges the Government to divert unspent money tagged for new “communities of learning” to raise teacher salaries or give teachers incentives to stay in Auckland.

“Say ‘if you stay we’ll pay off $5,000 of your student loan’,” he suggests.

The Government earmarked $9 million last year to tackle the teacher shortage by recruiting new teachers from Britain, attracting expatriate Kiwis to come home, 100 extra trainee teacher scholarships and 30 extra places in the Teach First scheme.

It allocated a further $5.2 million in this year’s Budget to fund two more intakes for the Teach First scheme and $2 million for a mentoring programme for new teachers.

Education Minister Nikki Kaye said the Ministry of Education had started “more intensive monitoring of teacher vacancies in recent months which has confirmed that Auckland schools are facing increasing pressures, particularly within primary teaching”.

“The ministry is continuing to meet with key sector organisations, including the Auckland Primary School Principals Association and the Auckland Secondary School Principals Association,” she says.

“The meetings focus on the challenges around recruiting teachers in Auckland schools and the initiatives the ministry has put in place to support schools to recruit quality teachers.”

Source: NZ Herald


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