Hundreds of teaching positions are sitting vacant, just two weeks out from the end of term.

More than 600 teaching jobs are waiting to be filled across the country, leaving schools struggling to arrange timetables and classes for the 2017 year.

Close to 200 of those vacancies are in crucial science and maths jobs - areas which have become increasingly difficult to fill as science, engineering and maths university graduates get picked up by high-paying corporate and private sector companies.

The other big area of need was in English teachers.

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It comes as the 2015 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), released last week, showed New Zealand school-children are performing below the international average in maths.

According to the Education Gazette, the Ministry of Education's magazine for the education sector, there were 745 teaching vacancies across Years 0 - 15 this evening - up 84 jobs since this morning.

More than 250 of those were in Auckland alone, with the city in need of 24 maths teachers, 28 science teachers and 37 English teachers.

There are 73 vacancies for science teachers nationally at the Year 7 - 15 level, and 66 in maths at the same level.

Post Primary Teachers Association president Angela Roberts, said the teacher supply issue was growing.

"It's become chronic in so many parts of the country, it's not just about housing affordability in Queenstown and Auckland," she said.

"It is about the attractiveness of the job and its comparison to other industries. Secondary teachers have a skill set that can take them off into things other than teaching."

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Fixing the shortage was about more than just attracting people into the profession, she said, but keeping them there.

"We need a commitment to improving pay and condition for secondary teachers."

If a secondary school cannot fill positions other teachers often end up stepping in to teach outside their specialist area, Roberts said.

"We all end up filling the gaps," she said.

Often schools "compromise" - classes don't run, are taught by someone without the specific knowledge, or students have to opt for distance learning or the virtual learning network.

Some of Auckland's top schools are among those seeking teachers for hard to fill positions.

Epsom Girls Grammar, Mt Roskill Grammar, St Dominic's Catholic College, Diocesan School for Girls and private Saint Kentigern College are all advertising for science teachers.

Mt Albert Grammar School headmaster Patrick Drumm. Photo / Nick Reed
Mt Albert Grammar School headmaster Patrick Drumm. Photo / Nick Reed

Mt Albert Grammar needs a chemistry teacher and two English teachers, as well as a part-time maths and science teacher.

Headmaster Pat Drumm said the chemistry and maths roles were ones he was worried about.

"We know it's going to be very difficult."

The vacancies come on top of the loss of three science teachers at the school who announced in October they were quitting Auckland because of its unaffordable housing market.

All schools were "scrambling" to get science, maths and engineering teachers, he said, adding the teacher shortage was the first topic of conversation among principals.

Job advertised at Mt Albert Grammar School for a chemistry teacher December 2016. Picture / supplied
Job advertised at Mt Albert Grammar School for a chemistry teacher December 2016. Picture / supplied

"It's like asking how the weather is, it's the first thing we ask each other."

He added: "In a dwindling pool we're just pinching each other's teachers, which I think is a short term fix but a potential disaster in the long term."

BY THE NUMBERS:

745

teaching vacancies nationally across Years 0 - 15 -

363

at Year 7 - 15; and 382 for Years 0 -8

87

- Maths teachers wanted nationally

82

- Science teachers wanted nationally

87

- English teachers wanted nationally

24

- Maths teachers wanted in Auckland

28

- Science teachers wanted in Auckland

37

- English teachers wanted in Auckland