John McGowan: Teacher shortage is really a crisis – Schools are growing and not enough teachers are being trained


We have heard a lot about the crisis around the delivery of teachers lately. It is easy to babbble about words like "crisis", so they start to lose the impact and get the meaning of the word down. I looked for the meaning of "crisis" and came to this: "Crisis – a time of intense difficulty or danger". From my perspective, the crisis, however uncomfortable and unfortunately, is good with the words & # 39; offer from the teacher & # 39 ;.

Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education, was reported by the Herald On February 22, the number of people who became teachers had dropped by forty percent in six years, resulting in a large teacher shortage.

"As middle-aged teachers prepare for retirement, New Zealand faces a ticking time bomb & # 39 ;," he said. Figures that were released that day showed that the number of people who were teachers dropped from 14,585 to 8895 – nearly 5,700 student teachers. The minister added: "the figures are staggering".

Associate Professor Wayne Smith is Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland, the largest provider of teacher training in the country. He writes: "The number of students who went to teacher training in 2013 was 949. In the four years to 2017 this had dropped to 717. This is a drop of 24.4 percent among students who may graduate to become teachers at our schools 230 fewer teachers graduate each year at a time when many older teachers retire and others leave the field because of unsustainable living conditions, especially in Auckland. "

In the Auckland region alone, the Ministry of Education estimates that another 20,507 students will attend primary schools (primary and secondary) by 2030, which means that more than 1,000 additional teachers are needed for Auckland.

There is a crisis in the supply and retention of teachers. At a time when the school population is increasing, the number of people in training to become teachers is decreasing, with the additional worrying prospect that baby boomers are retiring. It can be described as a perfect storm. There has never been a time when the supply of teachers was such a problem.

I am skeptical about any promised short-term solution for this crisis. We can, however, reverse the problems of double supply and retention by taking some important actions.

Firstly, we need to reduce the workload of teachers and increase the available support. As our society becomes more complex, this also applies to issues that need to be addressed in the classroom. Very appropriately our expectations of education continue to rise, because our expectations regarding the performance of all other organizations increase. Teachers must have access to better support to help them meet these expectations.

Second, teachers must be paid more – much more. As Minister Hipkins said: "I think one of the things that distract people from wanting to learn is that teachers have said at the moment that this is not a very good career to go into."

Teaching can be a fantastic career to step into. Only the deceived would start teaching to become rich. Given the importance of large-scale education for our country, however, we must attract the best, retain the best and give education the most desired vocation to pursue. At the moment the market speaks and people walk away or continue to worry alarmingly.

This is the time to change the direction from where people who have a choice walk towards. Our children and their children do not deserve less.

Oh, and one more thing, referring to the gray chestnut of teaching that it is such a great job because of all the holidays and the workday from 9.00 – 15.00, if teachers worked these hours, everything would not happen. These things include report writing and interview evenings, school camps, school productions, assessment of student work, coaching of sports teams and cultural groups to name some of the activities that take place outside of that six-hour time frame.

I think if it was really a working day from 9.00 – 15.00 and it was so good, we would not have a supply crisis for teachers and I would not write this.

John McGowan is director of Campbell & # 39; s Bay Primary School.

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