NZ Government moves to address dwindling teacher numbers

NZ Education Minister Chris Hipkins. Picture: RNZ

The Education Minister has released a strategy to help address the looming teacher shortage.
By 2030 student numbers are expected to increase by 50,000, to 850,000, however the number becoming teachers is dropping.

By 2016, the number of teachers graduating each year had dropped to just 3,600 compared to 5,800 in 2012.

Of current teachers, 20 percent are also over the age of 60.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said a large number of staff were also leaving the profession.

He said the strategy considered ways to address the problem.

“We’re looking at how we can reduce the administrative burden teachers currently face, how we can deal with unnecessary compliance paperwork, so people stay in teaching, because we know we have a particular high turnover amongst beginning teachers,” he said.

President of the New Zealand Educational Institute, Lynda Stuart, said teachers would celebrate less compliance paperwork, as it has heavily increased their work loads.

“On an average people are working around 54 hours a week, but that can go up to 70 hours per week and much of that time is taken up by the additional paperwork they’re having to do,” she said.

While Post Primary Teachers’ Association president Jack Boyle said the number one cause taking secondary school teachers away from their core work was NCEA administration.

“There’s a whole lot of paperwork in order to to assume there’s validity in your professional judgement, that isn’t really about the learning.

“It’s having demonstrable impacts on young people as well, we’ve got the highest rates of stress and anxiety related to assessments anywhere in the OECD,” he said.

Mr Boyle said the pay also played a major role into why less young people were getting into teaching in the first place.

“We’ve had data for a long time on young people saying why would I go into this job, with the skills that I’ve got I could go into the private industry and make three or four times as much,” he said.

He argued it should play a key role in current strategies to address the shortages.

However, he said he credited the current government for doing something, even if it had come late.