Recruitment rules for teachers are being relaxed because they don’t rate as highly at the border as film crews and yachties

The Government says it is “changing its approach to teacher recruitment” as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue,” by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching”.

It sounds like this means the bar for entry into the teacher profession.

Announcing this today, Education Minister Chris Hipkins recalled the Ardern government  – on taking office – was faced with “a teacher supply crisis”.

A shortage of teachers, in other words. 

Over the past three years, $135 million has been pumped into “a range of teacher supply initiatives” (or initiatives to recruit more teachers).

These include hiring teachers from overseas and Hipkins notes that teachers were given the biggest pay rises in a decade “to ensure that we have high-quality teachers in our classrooms”.

How lowering the bar for entry not result in the quality being lowered too is a matter for conjecture.

Hipkins bandied some numbers to illustrate what’s going on:    

“The workforce is estimated to grow by 1,100 teachers by the end of this year, which means around 3,000 more teachers since 2017.

“ We saw more teachers entering and fewer leaving between 2017 and 2019, and the estimates for 2020 show a further decrease in teachers leaving the workforce. Many of these teachers are overseas trained teachers, and they have done a fantastic job supporting our children and young people.”

Jolly good. So what’s the problem?

In a nutshell, our government has closed the border to bar foreigners from coming in during the Covid crisis and teachers haven’t been regarded as important as film crews and America’s Cup yachties. 

Hipkins acknowledged that past recruiting puts schools in a good place for next year, but

“ … we cannot afford to take our eye off the ball now. With our borders now closed to overseas teachers wanting to work in New Zealand, we are reprioritising funding to bolster domestic teacher recruitment.”

He enthused about teaching being “a strong, interesting and highly respected profession” and made a pitch to win back teachers who presumably thought otherwise when they opted to give up teaching for other pursuits.  

“There is no better time to return to teaching or to become a teacher. They have been leaders in our communities during COVID-19 and have helped get the country moving again.”

But Hipkins is also appealing to people who have never thought of becoming teachers or who – if they did – decided it wasn’t for them at the time they took up other work: 

“We want to make sure that people who have recently lost their jobs due to COVID-19 or are thinking of a change see teaching as an attractive career path. That’s why we are boosting initiatives that gets people into classrooms in as little as 12 months.”

To sum up:

The Government is fast-tracking the process to get qualified teachers who have left the profession back into teaching and encouraging those seeking a career change to join the profession through: 

  • 240 more enrolments in the Teacher Education Refresh programme which helps teachers return to or stay in classrooms. This increases Ministry subsidised enrolments to 560 and there have already been 2,621 enrolments since January 2018.
  • 150 Limited Authority to Teach places for schools hiring people without teaching qualifications to teach, where specialist skills are in short supply.
  • A new employment-based teaching course, giving up to 100 people the opportunity to gain a secondary teaching qualification while working as a teacher.

Oh – and let’s not forget the financial incentive.

Those wanting to change their careers to teaching can get financial support through 175 scholarships that pay a yearly allowance worth $30,000 and course fees. 

Latest from the Beehive

13 OCTOBER 2020   

Securing a pipeline of teachers

The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching.

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