Trainee teacher numbers in decline leaving schools struggling to fill roles
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.
Meanwhile, a report put together by the Post Primary Teachers' Association and Ministry of Education last year addressing the issue of teacher supply in the secondary sector says up to 1400 new secondary teachers will be needed every year for the next eight years to ensure there are enough teachers in front of kids.
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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.
Karl Le Quesne, acting deputy secretary of Early Learning and Student Achievement, said while new teachers were an important source of supply, they are not the only source, as schools fillrf vacancies by increasing the hours, or the number, of part-time or relieving teachers.
"We are aware that ITE enrolments have been falling over recent years, mostly in qualifications to teach in early childhood education. Although there is no direct correlation between numbers and the number of new teachers who enter the workforce each year, an ongoing decline in enrolments would impact on the number of teaching graduates in the future.
"We're currently offering subsidised recruitment support for individual schools that need it, and are continuing to work closely with principals and schools to identify solutions that will help them to address their recruitment issues, and improve the supply of quality teachers in the long term."