Fewer people aspire to become teachers

If our world-class education system is the envy of the Western World, why is it that fewer young people see it as a career choice?

Poor pay, high stress, and better career options are being blamed for fewer people completing teacher training.

Figures released by the Ministry of Education show the total number of people training across the early childhood, primary and secondary education sectors fell from 4830 in 2014 to 4220 in 2015 – a drop of 610.

The number of students finishing initial teacher education had declined since 2012, while the number completing secondary teaching qualifications has steadily dropped since 2009.

While population and rolls have increased.   Yet another immigration driven infrastructure headache.  

Onslow College principal Peter Leggat said it was getting tougher to find teachers, particularly in high-demand areas such as maths and science.

The school was lucky in that it had a relatively stable staff, but two maths teachers who left at the end of last year had been tricky to replace.

Fewer people were training to be teachers in the maths, science and IT areas, and were finding jobs outside the sector.

Leggat did not think there was much that could be done to lure those people into schools.

“To be a teacher, it’s more of a calling. We don’t do it for the money, it’s a matter of finding those people who have a passion for teaching.”

Porirua College principal Ragne Maxwell said while there was still a “reasonable” amount of teachers applying for positions teaching English and social sciences, anyone trained in technology could get better paid jobs elsewhere.

“We’re definitely concerned about this situation. We all know the single factor that has the greatest impact is the quality of the teacher in the classroom,” Maxwell said.

“Schools need to be able to select, from a good pool, a teacher that will fit into the school.”

New Zealand Secondary Principals’ Council chairman James Morris said teaching was not seen as a prestigious profession, or one that allowed people to make a lot of money.

Fewer and fewer people were applying for roles, and in some cases the process might be rushed as principals tried to secure a person, or they would make do with teachers they would not have hired previously.

A lot of people have a passion for teaching.  Fewer will have a passion for mediocre pay, excessive Maori and Treaty immersion content in training and execution, and the administrative load of paperwork and endless meetings.   And that’s before the after-hours requirements of sport, theatre productions and other extra-curricular demands that are basically mandatory.

In the end, teaching is part of a market place.  If you can’t get enough of them, basic economic theory suggests they aren’t being paid enough compared with other vocations.


– Stuff

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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