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Secondary Teacher Shortage Forces Increasing Number Of Classes To Be Cancelled

Increasing numbers of secondary schools are having to cancel classes or transfer them online or to other providers because of a shortage of subject specialist teachers, the PPTA Te Wehengarua annual staffing survey has found.

According to the survey, carried out in March this year, 30 percent of secondary and area school principals reported having to cancel or transfer classes because specialist teachers could not be found.

On average, one in every four schools that responded to the survey cancelled classes and one in every two schools had to transfer courses or classes. This is the highest proportion on record since the surveys began in 1996.

Also, average numbers of applicants per position were the lowest on record at 1.6 New Zealand applicants per position and 3.2 overseas applicants, compared with 3.4 New Zealand applicants and 3.6 overseas applicants before COVID in 2019.

Ten years ago the average number of New Zealand applicants per position was 9.9 and the number of overseas applicants was 6.8 per position.

“This shows us that the secondary teacher shortage is beginning to have a serious impact on secondary education in Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Chris Abercrombie PPTA Te Wehengarua acting president.

“Every student deserves to have a specialist teacher, someone who knows the subject inside out, can stretch students and enable them to grow their knowledge and skills in that subject.

“The fact that the teacher shortage has got this serious is an indictment on governments present and past. It must and can be reversed.

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“Secondary teaching needs to be a first choice career – it is such amazing and intrinsically rewarding work but it needs to be given much greater recognition and value through much better pay and good conditions.

Secondary education is the gateway to the future for rangatahi and for Aotearoa New Zealand. It must be a profession that graudates are vying to get into, and where vacancies are fiercely competed for – not where classes are cancelled because teachers cannot be found.”

Other findings of the survey included:

  • Forty-eight percent of schools had teachers working in non-specialist areas because they could not find trained and qualified staff
  • One third of advertised positions could not be filled at all and 5% were filled by applicants with Limited Authority to Teach (LAT)
  • One in seven advertised teaching positions attracted no applicants at all from within New Zealand or from overseas.

The survey was responded to by 127 principals of state secondary and area schools, representing 27% of principals overall.

PPTA Te Wehengarua Staffing Survey Report 2023

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