30 Sep 2021

Auckland secondary school principals worried by teacher shortage

7:23 am on 30 September 2021

Auckland secondary school principals are worried they will not be able to find enough teachers to meet growing enrolments next year.

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Auckland secondary school principals are concerned they won't be able to attract enough teachers to the region to meet growing demand. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

An Education Ministry forecast provided to RNZ said schools nationally would have 804,758 children next year, 9000 more than this year including 7123 more in secondary schools.

The forecast said secondary schools would be entitled to 262 more teachers to meet the growth, including 115 in Auckland.

Auckland Secondary Principals Association president Steve Hargreaves said schools would not be able to find enough qualified, high-quality teachers next year.

"I don't know how we're going to meet that demand," he said.

Hargreaves said students were not graduating from teacher education programmes in the numbers and subjects that were needed, and very few foreign teachers were able to enter New Zealand.

"Having a person in front of the students is one thing, but having the person in front of them that the students deserve and need is something quite different entirely. I know for sure that in technology, mathematics, physics, chemistry, te reo Māori, we are definitely going to be short of teachers," he said.

Hargreaves said the ministry's forecast did not count the number of teachers required to replace those who retired or took parental leave.

He said his own school, Macleans College had survived this year thanks to teachers who had come out of retirement to help out, but he doubted those teachers would want to stay much longer.

"We can't keep doing that and I think Covid is another thing on their mind. Older teachers do not want to be around schools with Covid breaking out," he said.

The ministry's figures said 40 percent of Auckland schools would have more enrolments next year, down from 50 percent in 2021, while 46 percent would have fewer students, up from 43 percent this year.

They said nationally 1000 schools would be entitled to more teachers next year and 1000 to fewer.

The forecast said 97 schools would be entitled to three or more full-time equivalent teachers to meet roll growth next year and 35 schools would see their entitlement to teachers decline by three or more full-time equivalent teachers.

The figures showed that so-called contributing primary schools, which did not enrol Year 7-8 children, would have about 2739 fewer enrolments next year, reducing their teacher entitlement by 207.

But full primary schools and intermediate schools, which did enrol Year 7-8 children, would grow by 2800 children, and would be entitled to 49 more teachers.

The Education Ministry said it would update its forecasts of teacher supply next month.

It said the overall outlook for teacher supply was positive and initiatives included 465 scholarships each year to help people study teaching, a bonding scheme to attract new graduates to more lower decile schools in Auckland, and up to 300 places for overseas teachers to enter New Zealand through the border exception process.

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