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“We’ll miss our teachers,” say parents and children

“We’ll miss our teachers,” say parents and children as staffing crisis grows

5 August 2018

Children’s drawings of their favourite teachers are front and centre of a new advertising campaign that highlights the mounting staffing crisis in our schools.

The campaign, funded by NZEI Te Riu Roa, includes bill-stickers, billboards and online advertising, and features a one minute video of children who show their drawings and explain why they would miss their teacher if they left.

Video graphics point to a 40% drop in trainee teachers and a projection that within a decade, New Zealand may be missing as many as 2,000 primary teachers.

The video ends with the comment: “Let’s not lose our teachers. We’ll miss them when they’re gone.”

Amanda Douglas, principal of Chelsea School where the video was shot, is excited by the release of the video.

“It’s just lovely. It actually brought a tear to my eye, because it shows the special relationship that students have with their teachers, here and across the country. It’s also incredibly sobering because it illustrates the staffing crisis is becoming very real.

“When we were asked to help publicise the staffing crisis it really struck a chord, because like every other school we are struggling to fill teaching positions.”

Mrs Douglas says that she cannot recall a time when a job advertisement received zero applicants. Nor does she remember such a shortage of relief teachers.

“We strive to put the best teachers in front of our precious kids every day but achieving that is incredibly hard at the moment, and it’s likely to get worse. There have been numerous occasions we have had to split learners across other classes, because we’ve exhausted our shrinking list of relievers. Members of the senior leadership team will also often fill gaps too, taking them from their normal work.”

Mrs Douglas points to the drop-off in those wanting to become teachers and the number of quality people leaving a profession.

“Our classrooms are unrecognisable compared with 10 years ago. The pressure of increased paperwork, compliance and assessment demands, that do nothing for children’s learning, cannot be sustained. The increase in learning differences without any real increase in funding or support to match is also a challenge. For many experienced, passionate professionals, the joy and creativity of teaching has been stifled. They’re moving on.”

Although some of the teachers at Chelsea were camera shy, they were keen to support the making of the video.
“Everyone’s on board with the campaign,” says Mrs Douglas. “It is unusual for there to be such unity.”

Parents were also supportive, agreeing to their children’s participation.

“We are lucky with our community. They know what we do and they appreciate the work of the teachers.”

The video will go live on social media at 4.30pm on Sunday 5 August. It can be viewed here. Parent and school communities across NZ have already been active in a community action day on Friday. Some of the photos of community events can be viewed here.

In addition to the video, digital billboards, bus shelters and bill-stickers will appear around the country from Monday.

The digital billboards and bus shelters feature children’s drawings of their teachers, and bring the teacher shortage to life by showing 40% of the drawings erased and the campaign slogan ‘we’ll miss them when they’re gone’.

One drawing features on the bill-stickers, was drawn by Chelsea School student Lila aged 10. She says: “I’d miss my teacher because she is my friend.”

Parents and their children are being asked to participate by uploading drawings of their own teachers at this website

Primary teachers and principals are currently in negotiations with the Ministry of Education and have asked for more time to teach and lead, more support for children with additional learning needs and a pay jolt to stem the teacher shortage.

The vast majority of teachers (about 86%) are being offered a pay rise ranging from about 2.2-2.6% a year for three years, and just 12 minutes extra a week of time to work individually with children or plan and assess learning.

The offer was far from the 16% over two years that members had identified as being necessary to address recruitment and retention issues that had grown during the term of the previous National government. The request to fund a Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) in every school to assist children with additional learning needs was also ignored.

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