Steps to address the looming teacher shortage were laid out today by Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

“The numbers tell the story,” he says, outlining trends that show a growing number of students and a declining number of teachers.

Student numbers are expected to increase from 800,000 to 850,000 by 2030. Meanwhile the number of graduating teachers is following a downward trend, falling from 5,875 in 2012 to 3,665 in 2016. This is compounded by an ageing teaching workforce – 42 per cent of teachers are now over 50, and 20 per cent are over 60 years old.

A Cabinet paper released today highlights the increasing pressure on teacher supply in certain locations like Auckland and certain subjects, such as te reo Māori, science, technology and mathematics.

“Up till now, while there are a number of initiatives underway to address current shortages, there has been no plan in place for the future.”

Such a plan is now in the works; Hipkins says an education workforce strategy will be developed by the end of the year, in partnership with the early learning, primary and secondary sectors.

It will look for “quick wins”, including how to reduce red tape and the administrative burden on teachers and school leaders. Hipkins has asked the Ministry to set up a joint sector compliance taskforce to recommend how to “clear the clutter” so that principals and teachers can better concentrate on their core teaching and learning activities.

The strategy will also aim to lift the status of the profession, by raising the standard of entry into teaching and strengthening teacher professional development. At the same time, the strategy will look to address the fluctuating teacher supply and demand issues.

It will also look to better support Māori students and students with learning support needs.

Hipkins says data about teachers and teaching is currently held across different education agencies in data sets that are not all linked effectively. He is looking to change that, so that there is better quality data available to inform planning around the education workforce.

An action plan, to be completed by April 2019, will set out how the Government and the education sector will work together to deliver on the strategy. The strategy will be reviewed annually.

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  1. It’s kind of ironic that I just heard today from a provider that there now isn’t enough funding for ex-teachers who want to return to the classroom to do the TER (teacher refresher) programme!! The government originally said it would fund it until June 2018, but it seems the funding is going to run out mid-May. Just another failure by the Labour/NZFirst/Green circus of a government.


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