Schools hail $95m to fill teacher gap

Chris Hipkins
Chris Hipkins. Photo: Getty Images
A $95 million Government funding package, aimed at training hundreds of new teachers, has raised hopes within the Otago education sector that the nationwide teacher shortage will be addressed.

In a pre-Budget announcement yesterday, Education Minister Chris Hipkins outlined a range of initiatives which aim to add 2480 more teachers to the sector, and support 3280 teachers over the next four years, by offering incentives such as scholarships and contributions to the cost of living for student teachers.

The number of New Zealanders enrolling in initial teacher education (ITE) plummeted by about 40% under the former government, he said.

"Our commitment towards thousands of additional teachers will be a shot in the arm to our schools.

"Children, parents and teachers will all benefit from the influx in teachers and the Government's commitment to addressing the long-term issue of teacher supply."

Otago Secondary Principals' Association secretary Gavin Kidd said any initiative that encouraged quality people into teaching was "certainly welcomed".

"It's a very needed step in the right direction."

Providing scholarships and contributions to the cost of living for student teachers would be very helpful, he said.

"There are people with skills, life experience and ability who are interested in teaching, especially in the shortage areas such as te reo Maori, technology, IT, the sciences. But the cost of giving up a job to retrain as a teacher while supporting a family is very prohibitive.

"These are the kinds of people who would go very well in front of a classroom and would relate to young people well."

He said more needed to be done to keep teachers in the profession.

"The key question is, `what will keep teachers in the profession?'.

"There's that whole issue of improving teaching conditions, which still has to be addressed.

"Although $95million sounds good, it won't address the current working conditions in teaching.

"It's essential that they do something about that urgently."

New Zealand Principals' Federation president and Bathgate Park School principal Whetu Cormick also welcomed the investment in teacher training and funding support to attract more te reo Maori speakers into teacher training.

"We look forward to partnering with training providers in the future to ensure that we produce high-quality teacher graduates who have the right mix of academic and practical experience and can enter our schools ready to teach," he said.

"We know that more investment is required if we are to fully support and retain our teaching workforce and make our profession an attractive option for young school graduates in the future, but today's move is a great first step."

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