29 Jan 2018

Shortage forces schools to hire 'weaker teachers'

8:50 am on 29 January 2018

A shortage of teachers has forced some schools to hire teachers they would not normally consider, principals say.

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Photo: 123rf

Schools begin to reopen today and principals say most have been forced to make compromises in order to ensure they have a teacher for every class, especially in Auckland.

Secondary Principals Association president Mike Williams said many schools around the country had taken steps such as cancelling optional subjects in order to cope with the shortage.

"Using teachers outside their specialist areas is probably the most common strategy, and pulling teachers back from retirement and getting them to keep on teaching for a bit longer," he said.

Mr Williams said some schools had also hired teachers who in normal circumstances would not get a full-time job.

"Definitely that's happening. What it means is those weaker teachers are going to need a lot of support to make sure the students don't suffer and that's the prime concern for principals is making sure that the children get a really good education," he said.

"But that's going to cost them a lot of resource and time to protect those kids."

Oasis recruitment agency manager Martin Strang said schools were definitely hiring teachers they would not normally consider, but most were able to make an appointment.

"Schools are choosing between perhaps the lesser of two evils. They will take a less strong teacher, but they still have options."

Mr Strang said senior teachers would support those staff in order to ensure children's education did not suffer.

Auckland Primary Principals Association president Kevin Bush agreed some schools had hired teachers that would not normally get a look-in.

"In some cases there are some teachers that in good times may not have been employed," he said.

"I don't know if it's weaker teachers. It's perhaps teachers who aren't the right fit for a school that schools are having to appoint, and the impact of that is that in some cases they don't understand the community that they are teaching in and that requires a lot of support."

Mr Bush said schools were also hiring more overseas teachers, and many needed extra support until they were familiar with the New Zealand school system.

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