14 May 2008
Ministry Must Not Drop The Ball On School Staffing
A Ministry of Education staffing survey showing 99 percent of schools are fully staffed is good news but doesn't give the full picture of the recruitment and retention difficulties primary schools are experiencing, according to the education union NZEI Te Riu Roa.
NZEI says schools and principals have had to work very hard to fill vacancies and the teacher supply problem is far from over.
It says the fact schools are 99% staffed should not be used to cover up a serious lack of experienced teachers. Due to the shortage of experienced applicants for vacant positions, schools have to hire a disproportionate number of beginning teachers.
NZEI President Frances Nelson says "beginning teachers bring enthusiasm and many skills and experiences to a school, but they require extra support and mentoring from experienced teachers to see them through their first two years to full registration. This means additional pressure on school leaders, who are already struggling under large workloads."
Many NZEI members also say finding relievers is very difficult and there is no slack in the system.
Frances Nelson says that while we can celebrate the results of the Ministry's staffing survey, they must not be used to sweep the teacher supply issue under the carpet. On-going and longer term planning is needed to deal with the baby boom of the past year that will hit schools in 2012.
NZEI is currently undertaking its own staffing survey, around the introduction of the 1:18 teacher:student ratio in new entrant classes this term. Those results should be available later this month.