In a pre-Budget announcement today, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says an additional 3280 teachers would be trained over the next four years.
The additional teachers, incentivised into the profession with scholarships, would be “a shot in the arm to our schools” says the Minister.
“Schools are crying out for more teachers and we are delivering. More teachers will help with the quality of teaching and education our children receive,” says Hipkins.
Hipkins says there will also be financial incentives for ITE providers to increase the enrolment of ITE students and ensuring funding committed to teacher training cannot be used for other fields of study.
“The funding also supports strengthened Teaching Council requirements that will improve teaching quality such as the increased length of student placements in schools and are expected to lead to better preparation of graduating teachers.”
Under the new requirements ITE providers will need to increase periods for high-quality student placement, further develop the use of te reo Maori in all programmes and build authentic partnerships between schools, centres, kura and local iwi. They have until 2022 to implement these.
Teaching Council interim Chief Executive Lesley Hoskin says these new requirements will ensure teacher graduates are better prepared for their first teaching role and help equip them with the skills to learn and adapt their practice to meet future challenges.
“Today’s pre-budget announcement is so important because it will mean more teachers join the profession with training more closely reflecting Our Code, Our Standards which are central to teaching in Aotearoa New Zealand,” said Hoskin.
However, not every part of the education sector has been as welcoming of today’s announcements.
Secondary teachers’ union says the PPTA says a more holistic approach is needed to address the shortages.
“Saying you’ll magic up a couple of thousand more teachers, without addressing the underlying reasons why there’s a teacher shortage in the first place, is counter-productive,” says president Jack Boyle.
“The reason there are teacher shortages are threefold: the salary isn’t competitive with other careers, teacher workload is unreasonably high and the attrition rate for newly graduated teachers is nearing the 50 percent mark within 5 years.”
Primary teachers union NZEI Te Riu Roa agrees.
“The announcement doesn’t address the underlying causes of the teacher shortage, which is that teachers are underpaid and overworked. Simply speaking, teaching needs to be a sustainable and attractive profession if we are to attract and retain teachers,” says President Lynda Stuart.
This sentiment was echoed by National’s education spokesperson, Nikki Kaye.
“While it is positive Education Minister Chris Hipkins has abandoned his focus on overseas teachers to try and ensure we have New Zealand trained teachers in classrooms, it is pointless if collective bargaining issues can’t be resolved,” she says.
Meanwhile the early childhood education sector is disappointed that it has been left out of the package.
Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood Education Chief Executive, Kathy Wolfe is disappointed the government has ignored the shortage of early childhood teachers in teacher-led early childhood education services.
“While it is good to see something being done about the shortage of primary and secondary school teachers, it is appalling that once again, the government has forgotten about early childhood education and the shortage of qualified teachers in our sector.”
Montessori Aotearoa New Zealand Executive Officer Cathy Wilson agrees, saying the early childhood sector is losing teachers faster than they are being trained and there are many early childhood centres who are needing to have unqualified teachers in their centres just to be able to remain open.
An Education Workforce Strategy is also being developed in partnership with the sector.
“A group of respected sector leaders has co-designed a vision, and is developing a strategy for the whole of the education workforce. This will define the unique role of the teacher and other key roles, technology and support systems likely to be required in the future, out to the year 2032.”
Breakdown of the 3280 additional teachers
Budget 19 funds 2480 additional trainee teacher places through:
- 1860 TeachNZ scholarships for trainees studying in hard to staff subject areas,
- 300 Teach First NZ places (which recruit graduates and professionals into low decile secondary schools where they teach while completing a postgraduate teaching qualification),
- 240 places in a new employment-based teacher education programme for secondary teachers, and
- 80 Iwi-based scholarships.
It also supports 800 more beginning teachers into their first roles through the National Beginning Teacher Grant (400) and the Voluntary Bonding Scheme expansion (400).