Overseas teacher recruitment in overdrive

It is a year ago now, but remember when both Labour and NZ First campaigned on reducing immigration? It was obvious by 2017 that the sheer number of people coming to live here was putting our entire infrastructure under strain – housing, roads, schools and hospitals. No one was suggesting cutting immigration altogether, but many voters wanted to see the numbers reduced, at least for a few years, so that we could build the infrastructure to provide for those who are already here, let alone those still pouring in through the doors.

A newspaper?reports: quote.

The Government has more than doubled its target for recruiting overseas teachers to fill a shortfall of 850 teachers next year.

Only three weeks after the Ministry of Education?announced a target of recruiting 400 overseas teachers?by the start of next year, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has raised the target for 2019 to 900.

He has allocated an extra $10.5 million, on top of $29.5m earmarked last December, for a package of measures including:

? More overseas relocation grants of up to $5000 for immigrants and $7000 for returning Kiwis, plus $3000 to cover the school’s recruitment costs. end quote.

$40 million to recruit overseas teachers who will all have trouble finding accommodation, who will have trouble affording a house and who will add to the congestion on the roads. I assume they will bring families with them, which is likely to mean about another 4000 people in 2019 on top of those already pouring through the doors.

I guess the housing crisis isn’t going to go away any time soon. quote.

? A new grant to encourage schools to employ newly graduated NZ teachers. At present only 80 per cent of new graduates get teaching jobs despite the teacher shortage.

? Expanding the current short-term policy of free refresher courses for teachers returning to teach after an absence so it can also be used by overseas teachers to meet certification requirements with the Teaching Council. Teachers required to repeat or re-sit aspects of the programme will also have their fees waived.

? Changes to the criteria to enable more schools to appoint unregistered teachers as teachers with “limited authority to teach” in a specified subject or area.

? Additional funding for agencies to process more overseas teacher applications. end quote.

Unregistered teachers… hang on. Wasn’t it Labour who howled at the moon because charter schools were using unregistered teachers?

Yes, it was. quote.

Hipkins said new analysis by the Ministry of Education showed that 650 extra primary teachers and 200 extra secondary teachers would be needed in 2019 to meet a rising level of demand, driven mainly by a forecast growth in the number of students in schools.

“We know that some schools and parents, particularly in the Auckland area but also in pockets around the country, are concerned that not enough teachers are coming into the system, and we are determined to pull out all the stops to meet next year’s projected shortfall,” he said. end quote.

So most of them will be needed in Auckland where $1 million will buy you a house if you are lucky. On a teachers’ salary? Probably not going to happen. quote.

Auckland is estimated to need 260 extra primary teachers and 130 extra secondary teachers in 2019.

“Further regional supply breakdowns are being considered,” Hipkins said.

“The ministry needs to be sure the model produces reliable results for areas with small numbers of teachers. It is being told of demand pressures in other areas, for example: Southland, Queenstown/Wanaka are facing pressure for primary teachers and Northland and Tauranga for secondary teachers.” end quote.

You will note that the majority of teachers are needed for the areas in the country where housing is most expensive. This cannot be a coincidence. Teachers from those areas have moved away to parts of the country where it is cheaper to live and the gaps are going to be filled by overseas teachers who have no idea what they are in for. Yet.

I’m so glad we’ve got plenty of room to bring in all these overseas teachers. I don’t have a problem with this policy in principle. If we didn’t have a housing crisis already, it would be fine but we do have a housing crisis, along with a government that promised us a year ago that they would build 10,000 houses every year, and have so far completed…none. I understand 18 houses are very close to completion.

Most of these teachers will bring in their families, which means more children, who presumably will need to go to school. It is a never-ending spiral that will not be brought under control until the government keeps its promise and reduces immigration. Unfortunately that, like most of their other electoral promises, just seems to be too hard to do.