Teaching graduate numbers plummeting

Stephanie Madden
Stephanie Madden
A significant drop in teaching graduate numbers from the University of Otago College of Education over the past decade has set alarm bells ringing for southern principals.

On top of  a well-documented increase in the number of teachers retiring or leaving  education,  primary teacher graduate numbers  from the university’s programmes  dropped from 176 in 2011 to 101 in 2017, and secondary teaching graduates have dropped from 123 in 2010 to  28 in 2017.

The figures back up concerns  raised by teachers during the recent strike  about a lack of new teachers.

NZEI National Principals’ Council Otago representative and Abbotsford School principal Stephanie Madden was shocked at the significant drop in Otago teaching graduates.

"We’ve got to be able to recruit the best and brightest graduates and those statistics are really alarming."

Associate dean (teacher education) Associate Prof Alex Gunn said the university had stopped offering some of its programmes in Dunedin and Invercargill, and was now offering post graduate pathways to teaching in line with Government initiatives.

"The masters degree required more resources, including more input from schools. The Government limited the number of students it would fund for the programme, so this is partly why the number of graduates has decreased."

Ministry of Education data showed the issue  was  nationwide and the number of students completing initial teacher education (ITE) qualifications was declining around the country.

More tellingly, Education Council statistics showed the number of teaching graduates gaining their practicing certificate had decreased 32.5%, from 6249 in 2007 to 4217 in 2017.

Over the same time, the number of teachers who did not renew their practising certificate within six years has increased 151.4%, from 2456 in 2007 to 6174 in 2017.

A council spokeswoman said some of those who failed to renew their certificates may return in the future. By the same token, individuals with a practicing certificate were not necessarily teaching.

Mrs Madden said many southern schools were  receiving fewer applications for positions than they had in the past.

"I do know of two Otago teaching positions which have been advertised in the past two months and there have been no applicants.

"We are heading for a major crisis."

Mrs Madden said he understood the average time a new graduate stayed teaching was only five years.

One key reason was workload. Primary teachers received only one hour of classroom release for assessment, other planning and administrative tasks.

"The additional hours outside of teaching are absolutely massive."

The second key reason was much better pay in other professions - particularly for secondary teaching graduates, Mrs Madden said.

A Ministry of Education spokeswoman said the Government last year  announced a $9.5 million teacher supply package to address immediate pressures by supporting more graduates into permanent teaching positions, recruiting new graduates into teaching and supporting  experienced teachers back into the profession.

A further $20 million was provided in Budget 2018 to  fund these initiatives over the next four years, she said.

"Early figures suggest these teacher supply initiatives are working."

At at August 1,  980 teacher education refresher places had been funded to remove cost barriers so  teachers could return to teaching faster.

And 139 teachers coming to New Zealand had  received the Overseas Relocation Grant as at July 20, and 41 schools had received a finder’s fee to help with the costs of recruiting those teachers. 

The spokeswoman said $370 million was also set aside in the budget for 1500 new teaching places by 2021 to meet population growth.

"Retention numbers remain high. The number of primary school teachers remaining in the job has increased from 91.8% in 2014 to 93.8% in 2017.

"The number of principals remaining in the job has increased from 95.0% percent in 2014 to 95.4% in 2017."



If you think a pay rise for teachers is going to fix this problem, you are totally naive to the issues and their causes. Look at what just happened at Rosehill Collage. Remember all the articals about teachers being assulted by students, classrooms damaged, teachers powerless to protect property and other student? That is driven by social disfunction resulting from the breakdown of family support structures that teachers are now expected to fix.
Then there is all this so called 'inclusive' culture where every possible combination of the human condition needs to be given 'equel' credibility while 'liberal minds' think up more.
These are all issues that need to be addressed by social workers, not teachers.
Schools need to be about learning knowledge, not social manipluation.
Why would anyone that has gained a degree in maths or sciences, want to spend their working life in a enviroment like that !?!
Why would anyone that had an opporunity to send their children to a school deviod of such issues, not take it !?!
These issues lay at the feet of the post-modernist dribble eminating from the Ministry of Education and our political masters.
That needs to be fixed first.

Parents of children over the next decade or two should be worried.
The Ministry of Education is and has been aware for some time of the acute shortage of teachers, even more so in the Secondary sector(try to employ a Maths, Physics or Chemistry teacher!). Seconary principals describe it as one of their major concerns and threats to the quality of education. Comments from the Ministry only mention efforts to lure teachers to return to teaching in NZ, or to escape from overseas to NZ. The latter has always been a supply but limited in quantity. Nowhere does the Ministry speak about improving retention, because they understand the fiscal cost. This country simply does not want to pay for teachers that are needed. Politicians send their offspring to private schools. Teachers salaries have fallen, teachers workload has increased. Wellington administrators make increasing demands of teachers for introspective self audit, convinced as they are that it is the remaining teachers who if whipped hard enough will bend shoulder to the load. They wont. They leave. Administrative numbers in Wellington have mushroomed ... check the figures. Is that a successful system ? Yes Minister!