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Beginning Teachers Burnt Out Due To Under-resourcing Of Education Sector

Beginning teachers are struggling as they enter the workforce with many quitting soon after they start in search of less stressful work.

The recent ERO report on the impact of Covid-19 on teachers and principals found that the youngest teachers (18-35 years old) were twice as likely to say they were not happy at work than those 36-45 years old, and three times as likely as those aged over 46 years old.

Now in her third year of teaching and first year at Berhampore School in Wellington, Courtney Miles says “it has been a very full on three years where everyone is under so much pressure.”

“My mum is a teacher so I felt that I had a good idea of what to expect but it has been a huge shock. There is a huge array of need in the classroom and coming straight out of university I did not feel like I was adequately equipped to handle this all by myself from the get-go, but that’s the expectation.

“We see how much pressure our more experienced colleagues are under, especially over the last two years, and that makes it extremely hard to ask for further support as we know it adds to their workload too. A lot of my classmates from university have already left the profession.”

Principal of Berhampore School, Mark Potter, says that all teachers are stretched thin but it’s the new graduates who really feel the pressure.

“All our teachers have reached their limit in terms of the high workload and deteriorating wellbeing working in the sector, and this has been compounded by Covid-19 and the new challenges we have all been facing.”

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“For our more experienced teachers to support new graduates we need to have more teachers and support staff in our classroom to spread out that workload.

“If we want our tamariki to thrive we need to retain these incredibly smart, motivated young teachers. To do that we need to ensure teaching is seen as attractive career option, not one that leads to high levels of burnout and stress.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford says teacher workload and wellbeing were significant issues for the sector before Covid-19 and it's only got worse.

“The Pūaotanga staffing report released earlier this year made clear that current primary staffing is inadequate. Next year, we will be looking to get more teachers and support staff in our schools to ensure our education system meet the needs of all children across Aotearoa."

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