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Survey finds new teachers disillusioned and overworked

A survey of primary and ECE teachers in the first few years of their career has found that 17 per cent expect to leave the profession within five years of graduating.

The nationwide NZEI Te Riu Roa survey* of 288 new educators found that many were disillusioned and exhausted by the high workload, low pay and substandard mentoring support.

NZEI President Lynda Stuart said teachers needed time to teach, and to be paid as the professionals they are.

“This survey paints a worrying picture about the future of the workforce and the ability of schools to put a qualified teacher in front of every class.

“These new teachers should be full of hope and energy, but they’re already burning out, and seeing far less qualified friends leap ahead in their salaries. It’s no wonder that it’s a struggle to get people into teaching and keep them there,” she said.

Of those planning to quit the profession, 43% said the workload was too high, 15% said the pay was too low, 15% said their mentoring support was less than ideal and another 23% said they were leaving because of a combination of all three.

Amongst those who thought they would teach beyond five years, 40% said they loved teaching although it was tough financially. Eighteen percent said it was “OK for now”, but they couldn’t see themselves staying through to retirement.

Those looking to exit teaching said the thing most likely to keep them in the profession was less paperwork and administration (30%), higher pay (21%), smaller class sizes or ECE centre ratios (11%), more support for high-needs learners (9%) and better mentoring and support (6%).

The survey also found that 28% of respondents intended to leave their current town or region within two years. The main reasons were the cost of living (26%), to teach overseas (21%), to buy a home (20%) or to travel overseas (10%).

Ms Stuart said primary teachers and principals would be renegotiating their collective agreements this year, and significant improvements to pay and workload issues were essential to turn around the fast-growing teacher shortage.

*The 293 respondents self-selected from 1600 NZEI members in ECE and primary school who were sent the survey in December 2017. The margin of error is +/-5%. Ninety per cent of respondents are in the primary school sector.

Comments from the survey:

I love teaching. I may or may not do this for my entire working life. There are parts of the job that frustrate me.

I love it, but it does take over your life. The work you do doesn't match the salary.

I do enjoy teaching, however the paper work is huge and not the best pay while you are just starting out, I have friends my age with zero qualifications earning more on stress free jobs where they do not need to take any worries home at night.

It’s a tough job but the impact we can have makes it worth it. More money would help to feel appreciated

I had planned to be teaching for a couple of years only but... time goes fast, I was given leadership opportunities that made teaching hard but up skilled me and I had a school that supported and believed in me

I love the kids but the amount of paper work and long hours are ridiculous and the salary doesn't allow much money for myself.

I love my job! I love teaching it is very rewarding but you don't do this job for the money. When I start having children I can't imagine working full time as I would struggle to manage my time as I often work approx 50 hours a week.

I love teaching but it's poorly paid and I've been close to burn out with the long hours.

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