Principals warn that hiring teachers to fill vacancies is becoming a nightmare in some parts of the country.
Teachers were starting to leave their jobs to go overseas but the traditional supply of foreign teachers had not yet resumed, principals told RNZ.
Macleans College principal Steve Hargreaves said it was nearly impossible to find good teachers.
"It's a nightmare. I went to a workforce supply with a group of principals and we are all battling the same issues - no suitable applicants applying for jobs, having to readvertise, still not getting anybody so then going to our retired staff and saying 'can you fill in', fixed-term contracts with our relievers to plug gaps. Yeah, it's grim, very grim," he said.
Hargreaves said the number of teachers graduating from teacher education last year did not meet demand and this year there would be fewer graduates because enrolments had dropped back to levels similar to 2020.
He said he had already hired two student teachers for jobs starting in January next year because he did not want to miss out.
"'We've got trainee teachers at the school who are going to graduate at the end of the year. We've just offered two of them jobs to make sure we've got teachers in maths and science ready to go next year so we're employing them eight months out, nine months out," he said.
Hargreaves said he was hiring staff from overseas, but also losing some, with two British teachers returning home mid-year.
Onehunga High School principal Deidre Shea said she had to look overseas for teachers because she could not find any New Zealanders.
"We've had several resignations just because you do, things happen, and we used the border exemption scheme to employ people from overseas, only one of whom has arrived so far, the others will arrive in the next few weeks, because there were no teachers to fill those roles in New Zealand. That's certainly much more challenging than any situation I've been in in my 16 years as a principal," she said.
Auckland Primary Principals Association president Wendy Koefoed said finding teachers and relief teachers was challenging.
"We've had teachers move out of Auckland. Auckland is a very expensive place to live and to commute. It's certainly a challenge for us employment-wise. Numbers in initial teacher education are down as well," she said.
Te Rapa School principal Vaughan Franklin said it was always harder to hire teachers in the middle of the year, but the supply of teachers was particularly bad.
"It's pretty dire situation. We've had in the past as many as 96 applicants I think for one position, that was a record for us. We've just advertised for one, in fact we had interviews last night, and for that position, a full-time, permanent position on staff we only had 11 applicants and 50 per cent of those applicants were from offshore," he said.
The Ministry of Education said it was hoping to attract 2500 new teachers over the next 12 months.
It said foreign teachers historically accounted for about 15 per cent of the new teachers hired each year.
A border exception had allowed 300 foreign school and early childhood teachers into the country since August last year, and the border would reopen fully to foreign teachers next month.