Rural schools on hunt for teachers
Taihape Area School is hoping Santa turns up with a teacher or two in his sack this Christmas preferably who know their maths or science.
The annual end-of-year scramble for staff next year is on and principal Richard McMillan says he’s still short even though three newbies have been recruited.
McMillan said area schools faced their own special challenges because they were a ‘‘unique breed’’.
‘‘I think they’re a fantastic thing,’’ he said.
But isolation meant they were up against it when it came to competing on the job hire market.
So lifestyle was one of the things schools talked about a lot when they were on the hunt for staff.
And there are hopeful signs that kind of pitch is starting to pay off, said Grant Burns, who heads up the Area Schools Association as well as Tauraroa Area School, 20 minutes out of Whangarei.
Burns agreed with McMillan that area schools were unique they needed teachers to work across both subject and age ranges.
That is, they needed to be willing and able to teach both primary and secondary school-aged students and two or three subjects, not only what they might have specialised in.
‘‘The smaller the school, the
‘‘Fewer and fewer people are putting their hands up to come to work in area schools.’’
more hats a teacher has to wear,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a situation that doesn’t suit everyone.’’
The association has 42 members so has been able to form a broad view of the problems faced by area schools.
They are often problems with which all schools have to grapple but are often ‘‘magnified’’ in area schools by their isolation and issues which can flow from that, such as lack of accommodation.
‘‘Fewer and fewer people are putting their hands up to come to work in area schools,’’ Burns said.
But on the upside, there was the development of virtual learning networks, distance learning, and ‘‘a bit of an exodus’’ from Auckland because of the cost of living there.
That’s something now being noticed in Taihape and Burns said his school had attracted a music teacher out of Auckland.
As well there was the Teach First scheme, which placed university graduates in rural schools to learn on the job.
Burns said area schools were often community hubs so their survival mattered.
Grant Burns, Area Schools Association head Rural schools are struggling to recruit teachers for small towns like Taihape.