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Q+A: Education Minister interviewed by Corin Dann

Teacher shortage ‘a crisis’ - Education Minister Chris Hipkins

‘I think it is a crisis for schools who can’t recruit enough teachers to fill the vacancies that they’ve got, and it has been for some time. It’s well past time we got on top of this situation. We need more teachers in classrooms.’

Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced a plan aimed at fixing the teacher shortage and the Minister told Q+A’s Corin Dann that until now there was no accurate information on the number of teachers needed - ‘that’s showing us that next year, we need about another 850 teachers to ensure we’ve got enough teachers in classrooms.’

The Minister also said one in five of the people who are finishing teacher training in New Zealand don’t make it into the classroom.

‘We do know it’s a big undertaking for a school to take on a beginning teacher. And so we want to provide extra support so that they can take on those beginning teachers and give them a good start to their teaching careers.’

Teacher pay negotiations:

CORIN Well, they might say you don’t value them either, because you’re not interested in their 16% pay demand, which would get them up to something that might be a reasonable salary to boost the numbers.

CHRIS Well, no, I completely disagree with that. We’ve offered them a $7000 pay rise for primary school teachers and a similar amount for secondary school teachers and an $11,000 pay rise for primary school principals. These are not insignificant sums of money. And actually, they add up to more than what they were settling for under nine years of the National Government.

CORIN Okay, sure, sure. Speak to the teachers tonight. They are looking at potentially voting for more strikes, so you’re talking to parents as well, who may be affected. What can you offer them? Are you sticking to the envelope of what’s on the table or can you go bigger?

CHRIS Look, what I’m saying to the teachers is let’s continue to sit around the bargaining table and let’s continue to negotiate these things.

CORIN But are you just rejigging what’s already there? Or will you go bigger? That’s the issue.

CHRIS I think what’s important to note here is teachers aren’t just negotiating around their pay. They’re also raising a whole lot of other issues that the government’s committed to dealing with, and those things take us time to work our way through.

And he had this message for teachers: ‘The best ambassadors for the teaching profession are people who are currently teachers. And if the message that they send out through all of the interviews they do is that teaching is not a desirable career option, they shouldn’t be surprised that we then have teacher shortages. We need to bring more people into the teaching profession, and I need the teaching profession’s help to do that.’

Please find the full transcript attached and you can watch the interview here.

Q+A, 9:30pm Sundays on TVNZ 1 and one hour later on TVNZ 1 + 1.

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