By John Gerritsen, of RNZ
The Education Ministry has forecast an end to the teacher shortage for primary schools, but ongoing problems for secondary schools.
It said latest figures indicated the supply of secondary teachers would fall 80 teachers short of demand next year, 30 teachers short in 2022, and 100 teachers short in 2023 - figures that were an improvement on previous forecasts.
For primary schools the ministry said it expected there would be enough primary teachers to meet demand for the next three years, though schools in some locations and Māori-medium schools would continue to need help to recruit teachers.
It said the pandemic had affected the supply of teachers.
"We anticipate even higher teaching retention rates, more Initial Teacher Education (ITE) graduates, more qualified teachers interested in returning to the workforce (including those returning from overseas), and fewer international students resulting in reduced demand. On the other hand, our borders remain closed to overseas teachers," the ministry said.
The ministry's report noted that the demand for teachers was driven in part by schools hiring extra teachers using funds from their operating grants or from fundraising and foreign students.
"The projected level of secondary teacher supply in 2021 is sufficient to meet the projected demand for teachers from staffing entitlement (that is, the Ministry allocated funding to meet the required teacher-student ratios), but it is insufficient to meet the estimated level of demand for employing teachers above entitlement," it said.
"In 2022 and 2023, we now estimate that secondary teacher supply will rise broadly in line with demand, leaving a gap of 30 teachers in 2022 and 100 teachers by 2023. This is a significant shift from previous outlooks, which projected the level of demand for secondary teachers to rise faster than the level of teacher supply and result in a more considerable gap in the medium to long term."
The ministry's forecast said the demand for primary teachers was now expected to decline more than expected after 2023.
"Whilst we are not currently projecting supply beyond 2023, the continued decline in demand into out-years suggests we may continue to see fewer role opportunities arising for new or returning primary teachers. This may result in a situation at a national level where there are more qualified primary teachers looking for work in the sector than there are vacancies for."
The ministry's early learning and student achievement deputy secretary, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, told RNZ it would try to find the extra secondary teachers for next year by recruiting more people into courses that trained teachers while they worked in the classroom.
It would also work with the Virtual Learning Network, which allowed schools to share teachers over the internet.