Teacher short­age loom­ing

Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - Ge­off Lewis

Waikato schools are a cou­ple of years away from hav­ing the same prob­lems find­ing teach­ers cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enced in Auck­land, ac­cord­ing to Waikato Prin­ci­pals' As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Hamish Fen­emor.

A sur­vey of 66 per cent of Auck­land schools found half were strug­gling to fill up to four va­cant teach­ing po­si­tions and had ad­ver­tised up to five times to at­tract staff. Teach­ers were be­ing pulled out of man­age­ment and part time po­si­tions which has a rip­ple ef­fect as those jobs went un­der­staffed.

Auck­land Pri­mary Prin­ci­pals As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Kevin Bush cited the main rea­sons as Auck­land's ex­pen­sive liv­ing costs — the costs of hous­ing, rentals, trans­port, an ag­ing teacher work­force and work­load which were en­cour­ag­ing many teach­ers to say enough's enough.

Fen­emor, prin­ci­pal at Cambridge East School, warned the Waikato was head­ing in the same di­rec­tion.

“We are in the same sit­u­a­tion as Auck­land only a cou­ple of years be­hind. We are start­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence a short­age of qual­ity New Zealand-trained and ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers. In­creas­ingly it is hard to find af­ford­able hous­ing even in the Waikato.''

‘Neg­a­tive press' was hav­ing the ef­fect of scar­ing po­ten­tial teach­ers from train­ing.

“The num­ber of stu­dents go­ing through teach­ers col­leges is fall­ing. The num­ber of hoops trainee teach­ers need to jump through to meet their reg­is­tered teacher cer­tifi­cate re­quire­ments is lead­ing a lot of new teach­ers to say “blow this”.

Another fac­tor mak­ing teach­ing less de­sir­able as a ca­reer was the fate of any­one “dragged be­fore the Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil,” he said.

“The out­come of any hear­ing be­comes pub­lic knowl­edge and goes into the press.”

Many teach­ers study to­ward a de­gree in ed­u­ca­tion which can take three to four years. How­ever, there are short-cut one year grad­u­ate pro­grammes aimed at peo­ple who have al­ready at­tained de­grees in other sub­jects like

sci­ence or math­e­mat­ics. A prob­lem arose when the short­course peo­ple were put in front of a class with a full work load and found the go­ing dif­fi­cult, Fen­emor said.

“The pres­sure is go­ing to come on in the next six months. Nor­mally we have needed staff lined up 12 months in ad­vance. I have two new en­trant classes and I don’t have any­one lined up to fill the va­can­cies. I know three or four schools which are pan­ick­ing be­cause they are two or three teach­ers down for the third term.”

A con­tribut­ing fac­tor was roll growth.

Mr Fen­emor’s school, Cambridge East’s roll had grown by 70 stu­dents in the past three years. Hamil­ton’s Rhode St School prin­ci­pal Shane Ngatai said he knew sev­eral schools in Hamil­ton that had ad­ver­tised teach­ing po­si­tions and had no ap­pli­ca­tions.

“Hamil­ton is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pretty fast growth and if schools find they can’t get re­liev­ing teach­ers to fill the gaps that means they’ve got per­ma­nent work.”

Mar­cus Freke is the prin­ci­pal of the near-new En­deav­our School in Flagstaff. Opened in Fe­bru­ary 2015, En­deav­our’s roll has rock­eted from 100 to 450 and is head­ing for 600 be­fore another new school, Sylvester, is sched­uled to be opened in the area.

Mr Freke said de­spite his school be­ing state of the art it was still a chal­lenge at­tract­ing teach­ers, in par­tic­u­lar ex­pe­ri­enced teach­ers.

“We ad­ver­tised for three po­si­tions and got 13 replies but they in­cluded a cou­ple from over­seas, and a cou­ple of be­gin­ning teach­ers. We strug­gled. There are not a lot of teach­ers in the sys­tem.”

Freke said many teach­ers were more used to teach­ing in the tra­di­tional ‘sin­gle cell’ en­vi­ron­ment and may not feel com­fort­able in the ‘flex­i­ble learn­ing space’ of the new school de­sign.

“Things are likely to get worse with changes to teacher reg­is­tra­tion rules. Teach­ers who don’t work in full-time po­si­tions for five years lose their reg­is­tra­tion and are re­quired to do a re­fresher course which costs around $4000. This will mean older and re­tired teach­ers who had been happy do­ing day to day re­liev­ing prob­a­bly won’t bother to re-reg­is­ter.”

Puke­taha is a pop­u­lar coun­try school just out­side Hamil­ton’s north eastern bound­ary. It has an en­rol­ment zone, a roll of 285 and is turn­ing away five to 10 stu­dents a week. Prin­ci­pal Ge­off Booth said he was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the same sit­u­a­tion.

“The glut of teach­ers there was around 18 to 24 months ago had gone. You want to get a bal­ance of new and ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple. We are lucky to have a cou­ple of reg­u­lar reliev­ers we can call on. Of­ten reliev­ers are mums who only want to work a few days a week. They don’t want a full time job and the teacher reg­is­tra­tion re­quire­ments mean they ask them­selves if it’s worth it.”

‘We are in the same sit­u­a­tion as Auck­land only a cou­ple of years be­hind.’ HAMISH FEN­EMOR Waikato Prin­ci­pals’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent

Photo / Ge­off Lewis

Mar­cus Freke, prin­ci­pal of the new En­deav­our School.

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