20 Jun 2019

Teaching as first-choice job: Kiwis below OECD average

7:07 am on 20 June 2019

Slightly more than half of New Zealand's teachers are in the job because it is their first career choice, an international survey of teachers in 48 countries and economies has found.

Secondary teachers meet to discuss strike action

The survey says the average age of New Zealand teachers is the same as the OECD average at 44 while 35 percent are 50 or older. Photo: RNZ / Emma Hatton

The OECD's Teaching and Learning International Survey found 55 percent of New Zealand teachers said teaching was their first-choice job, compared to an OECD average of 67 percent. In Australia the figure was 58 percent and in the United Kingdom and the United States 59 percent.

The results come as the government is attempting to attract more people to teaching because of shortages in some subject areas and locations, and after a year-long campaign by teacher unions who argued that giving their members better pay and conditions would raise the status of teaching as a career.

The report said teaching was more likely to be a first-choice career in countries with more selective and lengthy systems for becoming a teacher, though cultural differences could also influence the figures.

The survey found evidence of high rates of bullying in New Zealand schools. Thirty-five percent of New Zealand principals said they saw regular acts of intimidation or bullying among students, more than double the OECD average of 14 percent.

The survey said the average age of New Zealand teachers was the same as the OECD average of 44 years old and 35 percent were aged 50 or more.

It said 65 percent of teachers were women, just below the OECD average of 68 percent.

The report found more New Zealand teachers were working with children from migrant backgrounds than the OECD average, but fewer were working with children with special needs.

It said 28 percent of teachers worked in schools where at least 10 percent of students had a migrant background compared to the OECD average of 17 percent.

On average, 17 percent of teachers worked in classes where at least 10 percent of children had special education needs, lower than the OECD average of 27 percent.

The report said a quarter of New Zealand school principals reported that good teaching was hindered by a shortage of teachers with competence in teaching children with special needs, compared to 32 percent across the OECD.

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