Teachers have plan to solve Auckland’s education crisis
Education groups are calling for urgent increases to teacher pay and for Auckland teachers to have their student loans written off.
A 10-point plan was launched by the NZEI Te Riu Roa, New Zealand Principals Federation, Auckland Primary Principals Association and Waitakere Area Principals Association in Auckland on Wednesday. The group, representing teachers and principals, wants the incoming Government to begin implementing the plan by the end of the 2017 school year.
Principals were concerned that if the issue wasn’t urgently addressed, many children would have their education compromised due to overcrowding in classrooms or lack of a permanent teacher, Waitakere Area Principals Association President Donal McLean said.
The ongoing teacher shortage in Auckland has reportedly reached crisis levels with more than 80 per cent of the city’s principals saying they are struggling to recruit teachers. A third of Auckland schools have given up on advertising vacancies they have been unable to fill and only 16 per cent of Auckland schools indicated they were satisfactorily staffed.
NZEI Te Rui Roa president Lynda Stuart said retaining teachers with diverse backgrounds in Auckland had to be a priority to make sure children didn’t suffer.
The two-part plan aims to make teaching a satisfying and viable career option and to also help children with additional learning and behavioural needs. Teachers needed to have smaller classes and more time with each child and needed time to teach rather than overassessing children, the group said in its plan. Pay needed to be increased, student loans written off and affordable
‘‘Retaining teachers with diverse backgrounds in Auckland has to be a priority.’’ Lynda Stuart
New Zealand teachers’ salaries were about 80 to 90 per cent of similarly-educated professionals in 2014, a recent OECD report said. Their pay progression after 15 years’ experience ranged from 1 per cent to 9 per cent.
NZPF executive member Deidre Alderson said while there was no single solution to the teacher shortage, a comprehensive plan that worked in Auckland could also help other parts of the country that were struggling to attract and retain teachers.
Last month, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said her party had set aside allocations of funding in its education budget to deal with the issue in the short term.
She said in the long term, Auckland first needed to address its housing crisis which was driving teachers away.
Minister of Education Nikki Kaye also spoke about the issue last month saying there was a definite teacher shortage in certain places around the country and in certain subjects, the Government was doing all it could to address it. ‘‘We take it really seriously. ‘‘From my perspective if one school has problems getting a teacher that’s a crisis for them.’’
1. Make class sizes smaller in low decile schools by 2020.
2. Write off the student loans of teachers who commit to placement in Auckland schools and other hard-to-staff areas for three years.
3. Let teachers teach rather than spending too much time over-assessing children. 4. Increase teacher pay. 5. Investigate making affordable housing for key public sector employees a priority in Auckland housing projects.
6. Give children with mental health needs access to High Health Needs (HHN) funding immediately.
7. Increase the national hourly rate used for Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) and HHN funding – which has not changed in eight years - to $19 per hour.
8. Commit to at least a 10 per cent increase in resourcing for Learning Support in Budget 2018.
9. Fund special needs coordinators (SENCOs) to meet the needs of every child in every school in Budget 2018.
10. Value teacher aides and other support staff by committing to a Living Wage by 2019 and a ten-year strategic plan to develop the workforce.