WelCom December 2020
Dr Kevin Shore
Teacher supply for the primary and secondary education sector has been a significant challenge for the Ministry of Education and schools in New Zealand over the last three or four years. In recent times, the focus has been on attracting overseas teachers to New Zealand to fill teaching positions that our schools have struggled to fill through our domestic supply. Covid-19 has resulted in the closing of our borders and, as a consequence, the flow of overseas teachers into New Zealand has now come to a stop. This is an issue that effects both state and state integrated schools alike and it is crucial that all of our tamariki have a fully qualified teacher to guide their learning if they are to reach their full potential.
The Ministry of Education has changed its focus to concentrate on the recruitment of domestic teachers, which ironically has been boosted by a large number of New Zealand teachers returning from overseas looking for the safety of home. Analysis by the Ministry of Education suggests the demand for teachers in the primary system over the next three years should be met by available supply but as we all know that will not be the case in all locations. The Ministry anticipates an ongoing need for more secondary teachers especially in hard-to-staff subjects such as te reo Māori, science, technology and mathematics and again in specific locations within Aotearoa – that will not be a surprise.
Specifically, the new teacher supply support programmes available from term 4 2020 have included:
- 240 more enrolments in the Teacher Education Refresh, which will increase subsidised enrolments to 560 – available immediately.
- Recruitment agencies working with early childhood education centres and schools to find domestic teachers – available immediately.
- 150 Limited Authority to Teach places for schools hiring people without teaching qualifications to teach, where specialist skills are in short supply – available by 26 October.
- At least 150 teachers supported to relocate within New Zealand – available by 26 October.
- More than 150 Finders’ Fees for school domestic recruitment costs – available by 26 October.
- A new employment-based teaching course, giving up to 100 people the opportunity to gain a secondary teaching qualification while working as a teacher. Out for RFP, closing 2 November 2020.
- Promoting teaching as career of choice, through marketing campaigns – which began 9 November 2020.
- Working with 17 iwi on strengthening pathways into Māori medium and te reo Māori teaching – contracts in place by 1 December 2020.
Our Catholic schools also have the added challenge of finding qualified staff to teach religious education and to fill key roles such as the director of religious studies. The recruitment strategies the Ministry of Education is putting in place for 2021 will not directly impact on this and this issue remains a very important focus for our Bishops and NZCEO as we look to the future. There are no magic bullets but it is an issue we need to address with due care and urgently.
I certainly hope that these teacher supply initiatives have a positive impact in reducing the stress on our principals as they look to staff their schools for the 2021 school year.
Dr Kevin Shore is Chief Executive, New Zealand Catholic Education Office.