13 Dec 2021

Covid-19 has fundamentally disrupted teacher supply - Ministry

6:27 pm on 13 December 2021

The Education Ministry warns that the pandemic has fundamentally disrupted teacher supply.

No caption

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

A forecast published today indicated the ability of young teachers to go overseas for work could be the difference between a surplus of teachers next year, or a shortage of nearly 1000.

The report said the number of teachers staying in their jobs was at an historic high of 92-93 percent, compared to a normal rate of about 89 percent in recent years.

It said if the retention rate fell 2 percent due to teachers refusing Covid-19 vaccinations and losing their jobs, there could still be more than enough teachers to fill the gaps.

Its projection said in that scenario there could be up to 980 more primary teachers than required and 450 more secondary teachers.

But it said if the retention rate fell further due to teachers going overseas for work, schools could be left short by 110 primary teachers and 760 secondary teachers.

The forecast covered the positions the Education Ministry provides based on the number of children at each school, and extra teaching positions that schools pay for from their own funds.

The report said even if there were more than enough teachers available nationally, some schools might find it hard to recruit staff.

"This will particularly apply in hard-to-staff subjects such as te reo Māori and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), in the Māori-medium sector and in certain parts of the country where a focus on supporting teachers to move into schools and regions that still have a difficulty in recruiting staff they need, may be beneficial," it said.

The report said demand for secondary teachers was growing due to an increasing number of secondary-school aged children.

"The demand for secondary teachers is projected to grow year-on-year, peaking in 2025 then declining out to 2027. The growth is sharpest between 2022-2023 with demand growing by 650 additional secondary teachers," it said.

However, it said fewer primary school teachers would be needed in future.

"The demand for primary teachers is projected to grow marginally in 2023, before dropping year-on-year out to 2027, at an average decline of 280 fewer teachers required per year between 2023 and 2027," the report said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs