Dire predica­ment for schools

Havelock North Village Press - - News - BY ASTRID AUSTIN

A Hawke’s Bay prin­ci­pal says his Auck­land coun­ter­part started cry­ing when he called for a ref­er­ence about one of her teach­ers.

“Please don’t take my staff mem­ber be­cause I won’t be able to re­place her,” Te Mata School prin­ci­pal Mike Bain was told through tears.

Bain still em­ployed the teacher, but he un­der­stands the frus­tra­tion.

He says Auck­land is in a “dire predica­ment” when it comes to at­tract­ing teach­ers, but Hawke’s Bay is still feel­ing the pinch.

“The range and se­lec­tion of ap­pli­cants is much smaller than it used to be,” Bain says. “The days of 50-60 ap­pli­cants are gone.”

He es­ti­mated there were cur­rently about 35 to 40 va­can­cies in the re­gion, but ex­pected all of them to be filled by the start of the new school year — a dif­fer­ent story from Auck­land where some schools were af­ter up to 10 teach­ers each and had to buy full page news­pa­per ads for cov­er­age.

The de­bate has reached boil­ing point.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Chris Hip­kins an­nounced on Sun­day an ex­tra $10.5 mil­lion to re­cruit more teach­ers — just days prior to pri­mary school teach­ers vot­ing on whether to strike again next month in sup­port of a 16 per cent pay claim aimed at re­duc­ing the teacher short­age.

Hip­kins said the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion es­ti­mated that 650 ex­tra pri­mary teach­ers and 200 ex­tra sec­ondary teach­ers would be needed in 2019.

The pack­age pro­vides for more re­lo­ca­tion grants of up to $5000 for im­mi­grants and $7000 for re­turn­ing Ki­wis, aimed at more than dou­bling the tar­get for re­cruit­ing teach­ers from overseas in 2019 from 400 to 900.

Bain said it is an “ad­mirable as­pi­ra­tion” but of­ten overseas teach­ers weren’t the right fit as the dif­fer­ence in cur­ricu­lum meant they had to be up­skilled.

“As a first pick I would al­ways be look­ing for a New Zealand­trained teacher.”

“If they’ve come from the UK their sys­tem is sim­i­lar, but cer­tainly not the same and if they have come from South Africa or else­where in Europe, their sys­tems are sim­ply 100 per cent dif­fer­ent. The age of chil­dren start­ing school is dif­fer­ent, the cur­ricu­lum cov­er­age is dif­fer­ent, the way they teach math­e­mat­ics is par­tic­u­larly dif­fer­ent, the ex­pec­ta­tion around ac­cel­er­a­tion for stu­dent learn­ing is dif­fer­ent, the ex­pec­ta­tion around class sizes is dif­fer­ent.

“We have got to get high school stu­dents to see it as a valu­able and val­ued job to en­ter and a start­ing salary of $48,000 just doesn’t do it.”

The pack­age also in­cludes a new $10,000 grant “to as­sist with men­tor­ing and on-the-job train­ing for grad­u­ate teach­ers,” with fund­ing for 230 grants.

Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion deputy sec­re­tary Ellen MacGre­gor-Reid said the new grants will be tar­geted where there are short­ages of teach­ers in some sub­jects and lo­ca­tions.

Hawke’s Bay Pri­mary Prin­ci­pals As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent and Iron­gate School prin­ci­pal Mau­rice Rehu agreed with Bain.

Rehu said where he once got 40-80 ap­pli­cants for new jobs, re­cently he’d had as few as five.

“There is also a short­age of re­liev­ers to cover, not only sick days, we also have pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment and class­room re­lease time. We need more teach­ers.”

He said it was about “restor­ing the mana of the pro­fes­sion”.

“Teach­ers are life-chang­ers. Pay teach­ers their worth and re­source our schools. Teach­ing is a life­style you choose be­cause you love work­ing with kids. You spend your own money, you work late nights, early starts, week­end sports, taxi driv­ing, so­cial work­ing, nurs­ing are all a stan­dard part of teach­ing in our schools.”

MIKE BAIN Te Mata prin­ci­pal

PHOTO / FILE

Te Mata School prin­ci­pal Mike Bain be­lieves while there is a teacher short­age in Hawke’s Bay, it is not as dire as in Auck­land.

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