New teacher trainees highest in four years

Men now make up 43% of the trainee intake for secondary teaching and 20% in primary teaching, but only 3% in early childhood education. Photo: Getty Images
Men now make up 43% of the trainee intake for secondary teaching and 20% in primary teaching, but only 3% in early childhood education. Photo: Getty Images

New teacher training enrolments have finally jumped significantly after almost halving in the buoyant job market in the first half of this decade.

Official figures released by the Ministry of Education show that new domestic students beginning teacher training jumped by 10% last year, from 3915 to 4300.

That was the highest intake since 2014, but still well below a peak intake of 6940 new teacher trainees in 2010, when many people were attracted into teaching because other jobs had dried up after the global financial crisis.

Official figures for the 2019 intake are not yet available, but initial reports suggest that the upturn in new trainees has continued.

The improvement is likely to reflect both a cooling in the wider job market and a desperate shortage of teachers, which has given people more confidence that they will get teaching jobs after training and has also sparked a series of Government initiatives to attract more people into the profession.

Education Ministry deputy secretary Ellen MacGregor-Reid said more beginning teachers gained fulltime permanent jobs last year than in previous years - although the actual numbers gaining such roles were only 30% of first-year primary teachers and 42% of first-year secondary teachers.

That means that a majority of first-year teachers still appear to be getting their first jobs in part-time or fixed-term positions such as covering for experienced teachers on parental leave.

The figures show that there has been a slight increase in the diversity of first-year teacher trainees, with a gradual increase of Māori first-year trainees from 17% of the intake in 2008 to 22% last year - now higher than the 17% Māori share in the total population aged 15 to 39.

Pasifika first-year teacher trainees have also increased slightly to 9%, exactly in line with their share in the wider age group.

European first-year trainees have declined from 74% in 2008 to 68% last year, also exactly in line with their share of the age group.

However, Asians have remained only 9% of the teacher training intake, well below their 17% share of the age group.

The teaching intake remains overwhelmingly female, but female trainees have dropped more than men over the past decade so male first-year trainees have increased significantly from 15% in 2008 to 20% last year.

Men now make up 43% of the trainee intake for secondary teaching and 20% in primary teaching, but only 3% in early childhood education.

Other data released by the ministry show that the rate of new teachers entering the profession increased from 6.2% of the teaching workforce in 2017 to 6.7% last year, while the leaving rate declined from 6.2% to 5.5%.

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