Rotorua principals say a new package to recruit more teachers is "too little, too late" and did not address the issue of attracting more young people to the profession.
The $10.5 million package, announced by Education Minister Chris Hipkins, came on the eve of this year's final school term and as primary teachers are due to vote this week on whether to strike again next month in support of a 16 per cent pay claim aimed at reducing the teacher shortage.
Hipkins said the Ministry of Education estimated that 650 extra primary teachers and 200 extra secondary teachers would be needed in 2019.
The package provides for more relocation grants of up to $5000 for immigrants and $7000 for returning Kiwis, aimed at more than doubling the target for recruiting teachers from overseas in 2019 from 400 to 900.
It also includes a new $10,000 grant "to assist with mentoring and on-the-job training for graduate teachers", with funding for 230 grants.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said the new grants "will be targeted where there are shortages of teachers in some subjects and locations".
Rotorua Principals Association and Rotokawa School principal Briar Stewart said the announcement was "too little, too late".
"The teachers that have left to go overseas have gone because the pay is so much better there," she said.
"I would be surprised if they can get 900 teachers to come home."
Stewart said the pay was not enough to attract new teachers to the profession.
"Bringing people from overseas is going to stop gaps but the pay and conditions [need to be addressed]," she said.
Horohoro School principal Eden Chapman said the announcement was a positive step forward, but it did not address the issue of recruiting Kiwi teachers into the profession.
"You need to be able to have an attractive profession that attracts the best people to it," he said.
Chapman said the workload needed to be addressed for teaching to become a more desirable career choice.
"We are all passionate about doing what we can for students who need extra support. But when we are not able to do that, we lose hope and the desire to stay in the profession."
In his 10 years in Rotorua, Chapman said he had seen the number of principals leaving the profession increase from "one or two" to about seven.
"That is a really stark warning," he said.
Tauranga Special School principal Barrie Wickens said the shortage was a repeat of 24 years ago when the Government's response was to import teachers as fast as possible.
"It is a predictable response," he said. "While it is applauded, it indicates quite clearly it is a short term fix....
"...it is a band aid process for a major problem."
Wickens said overseas teachers would not be immersed in New Zealand's education culture, which would become a problem.
"There is a burden on the schools, which are lucky enough to get these teachers, a New Zealand culture induction," he said.
The announcement was a missed opportunity for part time teachers in New Zealand who are seeking employment, Wickens said.
"There are thousands of part time teachers in New Zealand who would jump at the opportunity," he said.
He also questioned what incentives overseas teachers were being offered above teachers in New Zealand.
Matt Simeon, of the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Principals Association, said the Ministry should address teachers' work conditions and pay before introducing any new ideas.
"We have got teachers that have left the profession because of workloads, expectations, pressures, the restraint etc," he said.
The Pillans Point Primary school principal said there were "significantly less" applicants for teacher jobs in Tauranga, but the city had not reached the crisis schools were facing in Auckland, where there were little to no applicants.
He said he had 10 applicants for a job currently advertised at the school, compared to as many as 80 about three years ago.
Simeon said while it was positive the Ministry had addressed the need for more teachers, overseas teachers would not have the knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi or "the cultural aspects of New Zealand".
However, Simeon said it was positive the Ministry was "trying" to attract people at the end of their Overseas Experiences.
"It could be an incentive for Kiwis to come home," he said.
Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said the Government was determined to "pull out all the stops" to meet next year's projected shortfall.
Hipkins said the new analysis created a much clearer picture of demand.
"We can now work with schools with much greater certainty. Our immediate focus is to get sufficient quality teachers in place for the next school year," he said.
"But longer-term workforce planning is already under way, and the analysis being refined will support this work to address what is expected to be a need for even more teachers in a few years' time."
Additional reporting - NZME
- Extra $10.5 million in funding
- Up to 230 grants of $10,000 for schools to get more graduate teachers into classrooms
- Over 6000 overseas-based teachers targeted in new campaign
- $5 million more available for overseas relocation grants and finder's fees
- Easier access to up to $3000 per teacher finder's fee to help schools offset recruitment costs