Thousands of children begin secondary school each year without the reading, writing or maths skills needed to make it through. In our series 'The Primary Issue' we look at what more can be done to raise achievement for all Kiwi kids.

A survey of recently-graduated primary school teachers has revealed many are struggling to get jobs and are entering the workforce loaded with debt.

The New Zealand Educational Institute surveyed 374 teachers who had graduated within about the last five years, and 51 per cent reported having to reapply for their jobs had a negative impact on their performance.

Of the 311 surveyed who had student loans, one-fifth owed more than $30,000.

NZEI spokeswoman Stephanie Lambourn said there was a shortage of primary school jobs available.


"It's incredibly stressful to have that sort of job insecurity," she said.

"Even if a teacher gets a contract for a term or two to cover maternity leave or roll expansion, they are constantly having to look ahead and apply for new roles. They aren't able to focus on giving their best to their class and are frequently missing out on the induction and mentoring they are supposed to receive as beginning teachers."

NZEI President Louise Green said the Ministry of Education needed to ensure that beginning teachers were getting the support they needed.

"It's a devastating waste of their time, passion and money to earn their teaching qualification but not be able to get reliable work at the end of it - not to mention the wasted cost to taxpayers for their training," said Ms Green.

"Many of our baby boomer teachers will be retiring in the next few years, and what will happen then? These beginning teachers can't wait around forever and if they're not getting the experience, induction and mentoring they need, who will fill the gap?"