15 Nov 2018

Overseas teacher recruitment a 'band-aid' - principal

10:44 am on 15 November 2018

An international recruitment drive appears to have headed off a looming teacher shortage crisis, but a principals' association spokesperson has warned it is only a band-aid.

No caption

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The Ministry of Education launched the drive last month after predictions primary and secondary schools would be 850 teachers short at the start of the new school year in 2019.

Yesterday the ministry said 550 foreign teachers have already been screened and are ready for principals to hire.

"Our recruitment drive to attract teachers to New Zealand is already helping to cover the extra 850 primary and secondary teachers we need for 2019," said Ellen MacGregor-Reid, the Ministry of Education's deputy secretary for early learning and student achievement.

She said 300 applications had been received and that all successful applicants would "meet all the existing standards here for teaching qualifications, registration with the Teaching Council, and immigration requirements".

"Principals only need to pick up the phone to our education recruiters, and they will match available teachers to vacancies," she said.

Teachers from the United Kingdom, South Africa, the United States and Canada will now work throughout New Zealand, taking up positions in low decile primary schools, and commerce and technology teaching roles in secondary schools in South Canterbury and South Auckland.

Auckland Secondary School Principals Association's vice president Richard Dykes told Morning Report the recruitment was a tangible response to shortage crisis and would "make a lot of principals sleep a lot easier".

However, he said the initiative was a band-aid and offered a window for local teachers, including Māori and Pasifika, could be trained and take up vacancies.

Mr Dykes voiced concerns about the fact the Ministry of Education gave no indication of the quality of teachers recruited and said a lack of cultural understanding of Pasifika and Māori students was problematic.

"There was some research just put out by AUT saying that the percentage of Māori and Pasifika, especially in Auckland, but right across the country, are growing and we want teachers who are going to be culturally responsive to that," he said.

"I know there is talk of providing these teachers with a two-week cultural responsiveness course, but that's not going to cut it."

The overseas campaign was one several recruitment initiatives to add to New Zealand's pool of 70,000 teachers in employment across 2500 state or state-integrated primary and secondary schools.