Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Schools have to think laterally

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Amy Wiggins.
Amy Wiggins.

Finding teachers to teach specialist subjects at school has long been a challenge.

Late last year the Bay of Plenty Times reported Bay secondary schools were facing an ageing workforce and difficulties recruiting maths and science staff.

A Post Primary Teachers' Association report highlighted nationwide issues, including difficulty finding maths and science teachers.

The difficulties were particularly the case in maths, science and technology. It was hard to attract staff in those areas because they could get higher paid jobs in other industries, PPTA Bay of Plenty chairwoman Rae Brown said.

People who specialise in those areas study for years to become qualified so it's understandable that they would choose lucrative careers in the industry over teaching.

Primary schools must struggle even more.

Most primary school teachers have to cover all subjects. They don't have the luxury of specialty teachers for most subjects.

This week we reported on one Bay primary school's ingenious solution to that problem.

Matahui School, an independent/private primary school in Katikati, has taken to getting parents in to take lessons in their specialty area.

One parent is teaching the kids computer coding and another gave them experience in 3D printing and design.

It's a great idea. These people work in those industries every day and can give kids hands-on experience and a taste of what the job would be like.

In an age where technology is so important and is changing so rapidly, it is hugely valuable to be teaching kids the latest and giving them skills in the area.

It's a great option for schools, particularly small rural ones.

Of course it does not solve the problem for all schools - it would not be practical to have a parent, with no teacher training, trying to teach hundreds of kids at a large urban school.

However, parents are valuable assets for all schools and I'd encourage schools to think outside the box.

That said, parents need to make the time and offer their skills up to help support their children's education.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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