Media Release November 21st, 2008
From NZEI Te Riu Roa Embargoed November 22nd
New Government Needs To Act Urgently On Teacher Supply
Latest birth rate statistics should send a clear message to the new government that teacher recruitment and retention need to be placed at the top of its education agenda, according to the education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa.
New figures from Statistics New Zealand show the birth rate for the first nine months of this year is the highest since 1962 – evidence of an ongoing baby boom.
New Zealand is already facing a serious teacher shortage. In primary schools, the number of teacher job vacancies advertised in the October 13th Gazette reached 808 – the highest on record and almost double the number compared to the same time last year. The surge comes as schools prepare for the introduction of the 1:15 ratio for Year One students next year.
At early childhood level, the owner of the country’s largest private provider has said his company alone is short of 300 teachers.
NZEI Frances Nelson says children born this year will flood early childhood centres and schools within the next two to five years, but there won’t be enough teaching capacity to meet demand.
“The implementation and success of the new government’s planned literacy and numeracy goals to lift the tail of underachievement, is going to rely on a robust, stable and experienced workforce of teachers and support staff.”
“The challenge we face is to ensure more teachers stay in teaching, so that the pool of experienced teachers continues to grow. Comprehensive planning strategies must be put in place now and for the future, including increasing teacher education programmes in areas of pressure,” says Ms Nelson.
NZEI is also concerned by the number of fixed term positions being advertised. It says if the demand for early childhood and primary teachers is to be managed to meet roll growth, the Government should introduce a scheme to ensure permanent positions for new graduates so they have the continuity of teaching and professional support to achieve registration.