Finding teachers a struggle

Kakanui principal Ann Roughan has struggled to fill a teaching position at the rural school, which she says is down to a  shortage of qualified teachers in North Otago. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
Kakanui principal Ann Roughan has struggled to fill a teaching position at the rural school, which she says is down to a shortage of qualified teachers in North Otago. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
A post on social media has helped a North Otago school recruit a new teacher, after no applications were initially received for a fixed-term position.

Kakanui School near Oamaru, which has 48 pupils, three teachers and 4.5 teacher aides, recently advertised for a fixed-term new entrant position after a staff member indicated their intention to move overseas.

Despite being widely advertised online and in a gazette distributed to schools throughout the country, the position had attracted no applications by the initial June 10 cut-off date.

Kakanui School principal Ann Roughan posted about her plight on social media, which resulted in the position being filled.

However, that was not before she was forced to sift through more than 20 applications - about half of which were from teachers based overseas who did not hold work visas.

Another two were based in New Zealand, but were not registered to teach here.

Mrs Roughan said the lack of initial applications showed there was a shortage of qualified teachers in the area.

''It's all worked out wonderful in the end ... but we were looking at options about what we could do if we didn't fill it.

''I think with the striking, teachers are feeling undervalued and it's not a career some of them are sticking at unfortunately.

''We have got a shortage of teaching staff up there [Oamaru]. There was one day I needed a reliever and couldn't get one, so we have to spread the classes out to other classes.''

Mrs Roughan was aware that other rural schools had experienced similar issues.

Hampden School principal Matt Bokser said he had struggled to find relief teachers at times.

''We are very fortunate to have a couple of amazing, reliable and dedicated relievers who we are able to call on regularly. We have had the occasional times where no relievers are available and we need to combine classes.

''A pool of good relievers is necessary to provide the class release, personal development opportunities, and cover sick days. With such a small group of relief teachers available it means our classroom teachers and schools can be stretched at times.''

He said the school had recruited for one permanent position in the past 12 months, but there were ''less applications than there has been in the past''.

North Otago Primary Principals' Association president and Glenavy School principal Kate Mansfield said it came as no surprise that Kakanui School had struggled to fill the position, and that there was ''most definitely'' a teacher shortage in North Otago.

''Five schools that I know of have had to re-advertise the position a second time due to low number of applicants, or unqualified or overseas applicants are applying for positions that they are not qualified for.

''Our relievers pool is very very small now due to them having to fill part-time or job-share positions in order to have qualified teachers in front of children.''

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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