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Low staff could bring an end to technology classes

Staffing shortage could spell end for technology classes

If the current shortage of technology teachers is not realistically addressed, more schools could be forced to drop the subject from their timetables.

The decision by Feilding High School principal Roger Menzies to offer up to $17,500 extra to attract technology and mathematics teachers illustrates the seriousness of the teacher shortage in this country, PPTA president Robin Duff says.

While not endorsing the idea of schools luring teachers from one another, Mr Duff said he understood why Mr Menzies felt the need to go to such extreme measures.

“It is an absolute disgrace that the Ministry has mismanaged secondary teacher supply to the extent that schools appear to be heading for a bidding war over staff.
“Shortages in key subject areas have been looming for years and the Ministry knows it. They also know it takes four years to train a secondary teacher, but only now are they setting up a course,” Mr Duff said.

In a bid to attract teachers into the technology area the Ministry has set up a scholarship programme, but this will do little to alleviate the current shortage, Mr Duff said.
“In the meantime a generation of students will be denied the opportunity to take part in technology classes”.

Both Mr Duff and Mr Menzies also feel an entrenchment clause that sees pay rates won by secondary teachers automatically passed on to primary schools is a major contributor to the problem. “Entrenchment holds down secondary teacher salary rates and leaves no margin to attract and keep subject specialists,” Mr Duff said.

A lot of those specialists also had the opportunity to take their skills and apply them to jobs outside of teaching that paid more competitive wages, he said

Mr Menzies says if he cannot recruit any qualified teachers he may be forced to close his wood and metal workshops down. Mr Duff echoes these concerns.
“If something practical is not done to attract these specialist teachers soon an entire generation of students could miss out on the opportunities these classes provide,” he said.


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