Paul Green, Makoura College principal and principals’ association chairman. PHOTO/FILE
Wairarapa secondary schools are no longer immune to the teaching shortage sweeping the country.
Earlier this week, NZ Secondary Principals’ Council chairman James Morris described the shortage as “a perfect storm” after a survey of secondary school principals found the majority were experiencing shortages “worse than ever before”.
This came off the back of last week’s Budget announcement which recognised the need to find 1500 additional teachers but failed to address salaries .
“There is a wave of teachers about to retire and I’m embarrassed to say that we have reached the point where we are begging them to stay on, for another term, another year, until the crisis is over,” Mr Morris said.
“Young graduates no longer want to enter the profession, the pay is far too low compared to what they earn in other careers and, of the new teachers who do enter the profession, nearly half burn out and leave within five years.”
Mr Morris described the situation as being at “crisis level”.
Wairarapa College deputy principal, Pam Redpath, said although the school had great staff retention, last year it had to coax a teacher out of retirement after difficulty recruiting teachers for specialist subjects.
She said the key to increasing the attractiveness of the profession lay in working conditions and financial incentives.
“Increasing the number would help, but they need to be targeted from looking at the advertised positions over time to determine greatest subject need.”
Kuranui College principal Simon Fuller agreed, saying teacher recruitment and retention was an issue across New Zealand and Wairarapa was no different.
“An attractive pay package is always a good start, but support in the form of affordable housing and the provision of opportunities to promote teacher well-being are also essential in the retention of staff.”
He said the main driver for teachers remaining in the profession was the enjoyment of “inspiring and helping young people to grow”.
However, teachers across the country are now faced with increased demands from NCEA, extra administrational duties, and increased pastoral care.
“Teacher pay rates need addressing and workloads need to be significantly reduced in terms of bureaucracy, compliance and audit requirements so that they can focus on their core work with students,” said Makoura College principal Paul Green.
Also serving as the principals’ association chairman, Mr Green was aware principals at St Matthew’s Collegiate School and Solway College were also concerned about the number of long-serving teachers who will be retiring shortly.
“Unfortunately, it can frequently be too overwhelming for well-qualified younger people who sometimes reach the point of trading it in, and pursuing less stressful and probably better paid alternatives.”
Money not the point
Chris Senior, head of physical education and health at Makoura College, has been teaching for 12 years, despite never planning to teach.
“I did a double degree in business management and sport and leisure thinking I would go into the police force, own a gym or something related to sport management.
“It wasn’t until I began teaching training that I realised how much I loved the opportunity and ability to pass on my passions to others.”
Mr Senior admits money is not what keeps him going in every day.
“There are plenty of better paying jobs for someone who has four years of university behind them.
“What I love about teaching is the ability to help others, to make a difference in someone’s life and to see that spark in their eyes when they get something.
“I was lucky to have some amazing teachers shape my life and now I would like to think I am returning that.”