More money should be paid to experienced teachers, rather than graduates, to resolve Whangarei, and Northland's, teacher shortages, the region's principals' association head believes.

The Voluntary Bonding Scheme, which aims to encourage graduates to stay in New Zealand and fill workforce shortages, has had 36 teaching graduates complete its three-year requirement in Northland since it began in 2009.

Participants can receive a maximum of $17,500 from the scheme; $10,500 before tax after their third year teaching and then $3500 after their fourth and fifth years. If they have a student loan, the money goes towards paying it back.

The Northern Advocate asked the ministry how many teachers in Whangarei, and wider Northland, failed to meet their three-year requirement but was told it was not recorded.


Te Tai Tokerau Principals' Association president, and Hora Hora School principal Pat Newman said he remained unconvinced about the scheme.

"I have reservations about putting inexperienced people with perhaps only a year of training in hard-to-staff classrooms. Those are the areas where quality, experienced teachers are needed the most. There used to be monetary incentives to get good teachers to go to difficult areas. I think we need to start looking at that again."

Mr Newman thinks teachers need to be valued. "I think most teachers with children thinking about going into teaching would tell them not to. That's a really sad state. It's not just the pay, it's the knocks we continuously have and the politicisation of our profession. Whenever there's a change in government or minister we get a whole lot of changes."

Socioeconomics had a huge impact on a child's learning," he said.

"It's not just whether they come to school with lunch or not. It's violence in homes; it's alcohol and drugs; it's coming from a home that's the third or fourth generation of a family where there's been no work. But, when kids' struggle in school, it's the teachers who get the blame. A good teacher can overcome a lot of things but not everything."

Mr Newman is the principal of Hora Hora School, a decile 2 school with 400 pupils. It has funding for one part-time social worker but he believed the workload was big enough for four or five to work full-time.

Nationwide, 620 teachers have done at least three years in the Voluntary Bonding Scheme since it began in 2009. Ministry of Education acting deputy secretary of student achievement Lesley Hoskin said the uptake of the scheme was much lower than anticipated, as supply and demand had changed significantly.