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Yesterday, Otago Girls’ High School became one of the first schools in the country to sign the "promise", which is a way for schools to show their formal commitment to giving new teachers the working conditions they need to thrive.
PPTA New and Emerging Teachers (Nets) Otago representative Kussi Hurtado-Stuart said teacher shortages were growing around the country and the document was one of the strategies to aid teacher retention by ensuring they were given legal contracts and provisions to allow for longevity in their career.
Over the past few years, a growing number of PPTA members had been sharing stories of finding themselves in fixed-term positions that did not comply with the terms of the Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement (STCA) and the Employment Relations Act 2000, he said.
"Our field officers are kept busy with this issue, and former teachers have spoken of leaving the profession after struggling to achieve secure employment."
He said it was alarming that 77% of new teachers were in a non-permanent position in their first school. Just 22% of new secondary teachers joining the profession in 2015 were in permanent full time roles — down from 37% in 2006.
He said there were legitimate reasons for new teachers being on fixed term agreements in some cases, but the statistics revealed a wider system issue.
"Research shows that teachers who do not have supportive and positive experiences in their first teaching jobs are less likely to stay in the profession.
"Considering the growing prevalence of teacher shortages and issues of recruitment and retention, we believe it is time that action is taken to ensure the best start to new teachers’ careers.
"The Promise to New Teachers is a way for your school to show its responsibility for the future of the profession."
Otago Girls’ High School principal Bridget Davidson said she was "very committed" to it because she wanted to keep new teachers in the profession.
"There’s a high turnover of teachers — it’s a demanding job, especially during Covid.
"So we’re really trying to give all our new and young teachers a sign that we support them and we want to create the best conditions possible for them to progress and continue in the job."