13 Dec 2017

Govt unveils $9.5m package to tackle teacher shortage

11:55 am on 13 December 2017

The government has announced a $9.5 million package to tackle the teacher shortage.

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Education Minister Chris Hipkins Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Some Auckland schools are getting no applicants for their vacancies, while rural schools are also struggling to find staff.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today that the government will extend eligibility for a voluntary bonding scheme to beginning teachers in decile two and three schools in Auckland and nationally to new teachers of science, technology, maths and te reo Māori.

Mr Hipkins said in order to maintain the advantage that decile one schools got from the bonding scheme, the payments would be limited to $10,500 after teachers had worked at their school for three years.

He said it would cover the cost of refresh courses for experienced teachers whose practising certificates were about to expire, or have not taught for six years.

Mr Hipkins said the government would also make it easier for overseas teachers from the UK, Ireland, Canada, South Africa and Fiji to work in New Zealand.

There would also be a include a marketing campaign to encourage more enrolments in initial teacher eduacation and to persuade more former teachers to return to the job.

"This is the first stage of a comprehensive programme to alleviate teacher shortages and build a strong and engaged workforce," Mr Hipkins said.

Secondary Principals Association president Mike Williams said he doubted the relief package would have much impact on Auckland's teacher shortage.

Mr Williams - who is an Auckland principal - said it was great the government had done something, but it was probably too late to make a difference.

"We do understand the difficulties of a new government having to get a package together and having to get it through Cabinet, but the practicalities are that - certainly in the secondary scene - principals have resolved a lot of the problems by making compromises to get there. I don't think this is going to suddenly change peoples' minds at this stage of the game."

Mr Williams said the voluntary bonding scheme might have a greater impact if it was repeated in 2019.

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