By: Zoe Hunter

Tauranga is about to lose more school principals, and lost dozens of teachers last year, amid growing concerns about the pressure of today’s education system.

One of the principals leaving, who has worked in education for 40 years, says he has steered his own children away from the profession.

New data, released to the Bay of Plenty Times under the Offical Information Act, showed 147 teachers and four principals voluntarily left their jobs in Tauranga in the first 10 months of last year.

Forty-five resigned, 15 retired and 22 left the education service altogether.

A total of 139 teachers left in 2015, 151 in 2016 and 168 in 2017, while no principals left in 2015, two left in 2016 and three left in 2017.

Gate Pa School principal Richard Inder will finish up his role at the end of Term 3 after 40
years in education for a new career path “probably not in education”.

Inder said it was time to hand over his principal role and exit the once desirable career that had changed dramatically since he started in 1976.

“I always wanted to be a teacher and, as you grow in your career, had a desire to become a principal,” Inder said.

“But the job has changed over time and sadly [my wife and I] have pointed our own children to seek a different career.”

In particular, Inder said ever-increasing demands of the job, political changes, over compliance and under-resourcing of caring for children with complex needs, as well as a narrowing curriculum and assessment demands in the last 10 years had added to a more pressured environment.

“Teachers and principals have to juggle the needs of parents who have a complex task in bringing up their child in 2019,” he said.

Inder said the ageing demographics in the sector had influenced some principals’ decisions to leave the profession last year.

The profession needed to be more attractive to keep experienced teachers from leaving, he said.

“The salary package needs to match the private sector and schools need to be resourced better. The operational grant barely covers the basics.”

Gate Pa School principal Richard Inder will finish up his role at the end of Term 3 after a 40-year stint in education. Photo / George Novak

Despite the challenges, Inder did not regret his career choice.

“It is still a great job, it takes a special sort of person. It is a career where you can make a difference and that is the wonderful part.”

Pukehina School principal Roger Reid resigned from his position citing heavy workload as one of the reasons. March 15 will be his last day as principal.

Reid said during his 10 years as a teacher, and four as principal at the school, the workload increased “to a point where there are not enough hours in the day”.

“Unlike bigger schools, we don’t have deputy principals, assistant principals and caretakers etc to share the workload,” he said.

“This has not only put pressure on the principal but on all staff.”

Western Bay of Plenty Principals Association president Matt Skilton said a common theme in both principals and teachers leaving the profession was the continued increase in responsibilities without adequate provision of time, support and remuneration.

“Pay isn’t everything but improved levels of salary will help make the profession a lot more attractive to potential trainee teachers, as well as work towards helping retain experienced educators,” he said.

Skilton said more support around workloads and managing the increasing needs of students was also needed.

Otamarakau School’s new principal, Andrea Dance, said she initially became a teacher to “make a difference” and have a job that could work with being a mum.

However, she was aware time pressures, pay, workload and life balance, plus increased class sizes, were all challenges of the role.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary of early learning and student achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid said the Government had committed an extra $10.5 million to help boost teacher supply in October 2018 on top of $29.5m announced in 2017.

MacGregor-Reid said research suggested primary and secondary enrolments had increased from 2017 to 2018 and were likely to have increased again this year.

Teaching touches the heart

Paul Hunt watches over pupil Joseph Dawson as the 9-year-old peers through the school gardens with his magnifying glass.

The principal and student spend hours searching for new things to learn about in the Fairhaven School grounds.

“It is those moments that touch your heart that make me want to stay in the job,” he said.

“You can see the good that you are doing.”

However, the longstanding principal is no stranger to the pressures of the education system.

Teaching is very different to what it was when he started in the late 1970s.

The biggest concern was that young and upcoming principals were retiring early.

“That is a worry, they are our future,” he said.

Hunt said society had also become more complex along with the children’s needs, however, schools were not funded and resourced adequately to help care for them.

“Societal pressures are impacting schools. Teachers are teaching differently,” he said.

There were more financial pressures on today’s families, with both parents in full-time work and increasing rental costs.

“In my day parents would seldom go to schools. But now parents’ expectations are that they are more involved.”

TEACHERS WHO LEFT EMPLOYMENT
2018 (January to October):
Tauranga City: 147
Western Bay of Plenty: 46

2017:
Tauranga City: 168
Western Bay of Plenty: 39

2016:
Tauranga City: 151
Western Bay of Plenty: 49

2015:
Tauranga City: 139
Western Bay of Plenty: 34

PRINCIPALS WHO LEFT EMPLOYMENT
2018 (January to October):
Tauranga City: 4
Western Bay of Plenty: 2

2017:
Tauranga City: 3
Western Bay of Plenty: 4

2016:
Tauranga City: 2
Western Bay of Plenty: 2

2015:
Tauranga City: 0
Western Bay of Plenty: 2

Source: NZ Herald

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