Teacher training to get $95m more government spending over four years

4:03 pm on 2 May 2019

The government has announced a $95 million boost in spending on teacher training over the next four years.

A view from behind of teacher aide and two little girls while rest of class taught  further into classroom.

A teacher aide works with special needs students at Newmarket School in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the pre-budget announcement was a direct response to schools' ongoing complaints about a shortage of good teachers, especially in Auckland.

"The feedback that we're getting from them is there just aren't enough people of the right kind applying for the jobs that they have, so we can do something about that, we can increase the pool," he said.

He said the money would train or support 3280 more teachers over four years.

Mr Hipkins said it would be used to increase the number of places for teacher trainees, provide more scholarships, and pay for a new school-based training scheme.

Additional trainee teacher places will be funded through:

  • 1860 TeachNZ scholarships - fees and living costs for trainees studying in hard to staff subject areas
  • 300 Teach First NZ places to recruit graduates and professionals into low decile secondary schools where they teach while completing a postgraduate teaching
  • 240 places in a new employment-based teacher education programme for secondary teachers
  • 80 Iwi-based scholarships

The funding also supports 800 more beginning teachers into their first roles, half through the National Beginning Teacher Grant and the half with a Voluntary Bonding Scheme expansion.

Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The money will be included in the Budget on 30 May.

A large part of the funding, $24.5m, would be spent on helping teacher training courses meet new Teaching Council requirements.

More than $14m would be used to attract teachers, including former New Zealand teachers, from overseas through relocation payments, finders fees and other recruitment support.

Mr Hipkins said he was confident the number of teacher trainees would continue to increase. He said enrolments went up by about 10 percent last year and there were early indications they had increased again this year.

Student teachers at the announcement said more teachers were probably needed, but they wanted to see more government support for current students and more help for new teachers in their first few years of work.

Teacher trainees want more support

Mr Hipkins made his pre-Budget announcement to a class of teaching students at Victoria University today.

He was upbeat about the package, but the students were not convinced it is money well spent.

Eleanor Sherson said it could end up flooding the market with too many teachers.

"It's good they're wanting to pump more teachers in, but is there a danger in the long-run that we actually over-crowd the amount of teachers that we have because that happened a wee while ago," she said.

Ms Sherson said the government also needed to make sure new teachers were not overworked so they were less likely to burn out and quit.

"I can see that with a growing population you need more teachers and we do have a teacher crisis but we need to make sure we're also investing in the people who are training now and saying 'hey, you're training now we appreciate that, how can we support you in the five years to ensure so that you actually go on to do it for 20 years'," she said.

Elizabeth Jackson said the country needed more teachers, but there should be more help for those who were already training or working.

"We do need to train more teachers, there is a teacher shortage, there's just a lack of support around current teachers who are studying and teachers who are currently in the workforce," she said.

Natalie Hodge said the government should provide a wider range of scholarships for teacher trainees.

"There's a lot of scholarships going to secondary and a lot of scholarships going to Maori students or te reo or diversity but for the rest of the population there's actually not much on offer and if you're wanting bulk numbers like they are you actually need to offer opportunities for everyone on top of extra stuff for the diverse groups that we need so desperately," she said.

Rebekah Hart was another who would have preferred to see some of the money used to support more students.

"I would have liked to have seen some of that redirected to a postgrad allowance and more scholarships would be wonderful, especially for primary school teachers there's not much out there," she said.

The associate dean of teacher education at Victoria University, Andrea Milligan, said it could easily take more students but she warned that while there were many people who wanted to become teachers, increasing the pool further would require better working conditions for teachers.

"It's absolutely connected to how attractive the profession is and how well teachers are remunerated. So if this could be coupled with an improvement in the conditions for teachers in the workforce I think that attractiveness into the profession would be increased," she said.

  • Government books show $2.5 billion surplus
  • Minister promises increased funding for alternative education
  • Wellington teachers determined to continue pushing for improved offer