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Teacher shortage bites

Teacher shortage bites

National Party Education spokesman Bill English says the teacher shortage gripping New Zealand is bound to get worse, before it gets better.

He's responding to the Education Ministry's desperate bid to recruit 272 teachers for our secondary schools, just weeks out from the start of the first term.

"Again this year, Kiwi kids can look forward to bigger classrooms, with less experienced teachers in front of them.

"Ninety-nine of the un-filled positions are in middle or senior management. This comes in the same year that schools are facing their biggest administrative challenge of implementing all three levels of the NCEA.

"While the number of vacancies is down on last year (316), it has set the scene for a difficult industrial round," says Mr English.

"There are big shortages in technology and other specialist areas for teachers who have non-degree status. Trevor Mallard must take some responsibility for failing to solve the problem of G-3 equivalency - which would give non-degree teachers pay parity with degree teachers.

"Teachers with years of technical and industry experience are leaving, because the current pay structure does not recognise their on the job, or hands-on history.

"Even the PPTA agrees this crisis needs to be solved.

"It's an issue that's been simmering for more than 18 months and while various solutions have been suggested - the Minister has taken no action.

"Instead, he's taking steps to make sure he's in charge of deciding when to dock the pay of teachers involved in industrial action (State Sector Amendment Act).

"It's clear the Minister is intent on removing the powers of school boards to make their own decisions, and it's just as obvious he's preparing for industrial rounds plagued with conflict during 2004 and 2005.

"This is a price that students and parents will continue to pay for Labour's quick fix solution to the teacher strike ahead of the last election. National believes this situation should have been sorted out properly when Labour was attempting to buy the silence of those teacher unions. "If we want to retain the best teachers in specialist areas like technology, then the Government must introduce a mechanism to recognise that vital on the job and industry experience," says Mr English.

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