The struggle to recruit good teachers has been a "slow train wreck" according to one Rotorua principal but others say finding a reliever is the real problem.

John Paul College is advertising for four teachers and principal Patrick Walsh said they would soon be advertising for a further four.

He said schools just couldn't compete with other professions.

"It's hit crisis point ... We've been telling the ministry [of Education] for years this is upon us. It's been a slow train wreck.


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Westbrook School is advertising five positions but hadn't struggled to attract applicants.

John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh. Photo / File
John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh. Photo / File

Principal Colin Watkins said the school had about 60 applicants for the positions and had "broken the trend" but that may be related to the time of year.

"We deliberately have advertised this now because most teachers who have a genuine love for their job ... are not going to walk out halfway through the year. That's letting their current class and school down."

He said about 40 per cent of the applicants were beginner teachers.

While the school hadn't struggled with applicants, Watkins said a big issue was finding relieving teachers.

"We've had to spread kids across classrooms because we've not been able to get a relieving teacher."

Watkins said sometimes teachers went to work unwell because the school couldn't find a reliever.


"Teachers are reluctant to be away, they have to be on their death bed to not come in," he said.

Earlier in the year Lynmore Primary School had no applications for an advertised teaching position. But so far there have been 48 applicants for permanent, full time teaching positions advertised for 2019.

Principal Lorraine Taylor said the situation was "far from healthy" and one issue was suitability of applicants.

Taylor said only two of the 48 applicants had more than three years' teaching experience and wouldn't need a work visa.

Lorraine Taylor, principal of Lynmore School. Photo / File
Lorraine Taylor, principal of Lynmore School. Photo / File

Mokoia Intermediate is advertising for three classroom teachers. Principal Rawiri Wihapi said a shortage of applicants wasn't an issue at his school but a reliever shortage was.

"Twice this week we have had to split classes because we just cant find a reliever to book for the day."

Education union the New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) recently conducted a survey about teacher shortages, finding 30 per cent of the 700 primary and intermediate principals surveyed reported no suitable applicants for job vacancies.

Of those surveyed, 90 per cent struggled to find relievers.

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Ministry of Education deputy secretary of early learning and student achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid said plans were in place to ensure there would be enough teachers to cope with the projected increase in pupil numbers.

"In Budget 2018, $370 million was set aside to fund 1500 more teacher places by 2021 to meet population growth."

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said a $9.5m teacher supply package was announced last year and a further $20m was provided in Budget 2018 across the next four years to address the drop in the number of people training to be teachers.

Meanwhile, the University of Canterbury's Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Primary) degree run at Toi Ohomai's Rotorua campus is being phased out.

The university's health and human development acting pro-vice-chancellor for the College of Education, Professor Letitia Fickel said the sustainability of the programme had been affected by declining enrolments.

Enrolments peaked at 24 in 2012 and sit at 17 for the 2018 year.

Fickel said students who enrolled in 2019 would study on-campus for the first two years of the bachelor and complete the third year by distance.

From 2020 the university would offer a distance learning programme.