Schools have been given only two weeks to apply for $10,000 grants to take on beginner teachers next year.

Long-awaited criteria for the new grants, which were signalled on October 14, were finally released by the Ministry of Education on Friday.

Applications close just two weeks later at the end of next week, November 16 - the same week that primary teachers are due to stage regional strikes in support of their 16 per cent pay claim.

School principals welcomed the grants despite the tight deadline.

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"If this enables more beginning teachers to get in front of our young people, we would welcome that," said NZ Principals Federation president Whetu Cormick.

Auckland Secondary School Principals Association president Richard Dykes said he also welcomed any initiative to solve a critical shortage of teachers, especially in Auckland.

"There's only a two-week window for applications, a very tight window," he said.

"It's good that the Government is engaged with the matter. Will it make a difference? Fingers crossed!"

"Will it make a difference? Fingers crossed!" says Richard Dykes (above). Photo / Jason Oxenham

The $10,000 grants are available for up to 230, or 10 per cent, of the 2300 trainees graduating from teacher training courses this year. They are intended to cover the cost of schools providing mentoring and support to the new graduates, who must be hired for at least a year.

A notice on the Ministry of Education's recruitment website Teach NZ says the grants are aimed at lifting the employment rate for new teaching graduates from 80 per cent last year to 90 per cent.

The grants are tagged to graduate numbers, with 150 for primary teachers and 80 for secondary teachers compared with 1520 primary teaching graduates and 860 secondary graduates this year.

All state and integrated schools employing beginning teachers can apply for the grants, but the notice says priority will be given to:

• Decile 1 to 4 schools.

• Isolated schools and/or other locations experiencing significant teacher shortages.

• Māori medium kura.

• Shortage subjects in secondary schools: science, technology, engineering, maths and te reo Māori.

Auckland is not specifically mentioned, but appears to be included as a "location experiencing significant teacher shortages".

The ministry also appears to be targeting marginal graduates who would not be employed without the subsidy, by requiring that the school must not have employed the teacher before applying for the grant.

"Schools will apply for the grant before employing a beginning teacher and payment of the grant will be made on receipt of the employment agreement and a tax invoice of $10,000. This will be paid in a one-off instalment," the notice says.

Dykes said he had already hired a beginning teacher to start in the new school year and he had asked the ministry whether the teacher would qualify for the grant.

"The one we have employed is an English teacher. I won't be holding my breath," he said.

Professor Don Klinger says at least 70 per cent of Waikato teaching graduates have already lined up jobs. Photo / Website
Professor Don Klinger says at least 70 per cent of Waikato teaching graduates have already lined up jobs. Photo / Website

Waikato University's dean of education Professor Don Klinger said the grant "might open up an opportunity for some schools to take a chance on a new teacher where they might not have in the past".

"That first year can be very challenging, so this grant is a really good mentorship model," he said.

He said at least 70 per cent of this year's Waikato teaching graduates had already lined up jobs, but there would always be some who had to wait for vacancies in their subjects or were not able to move to where the jobs were.

The Education Gazette currently lists 681 vacancies in schools as "suitable for beginning teachers".