'Supply crisis': Govt's $500,000 advertising blitz to fill teacher shortages

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 19 Jan 2020, 5:31PM
Critic say the Government's focus should be on training teachers in New Zealand, not looking to bring in more from overseas. (Photo / Getty)

'Supply crisis': Govt's $500,000 advertising blitz to fill teacher shortages

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 19 Jan 2020, 5:31PM

The Government spent almost half a million dollars on foreign advertising in a bid to woo overseas teachers to come work in New Zealand as the country grapples with a teacher "supply crisis".

Teachers' Unions say the Government needs to be doing more to train additional Kiwi teachers.

But the Government says it inherited major issues with teachers supply when it won power in 2017 and has blamed the previous National Government for not training enough teachers.

National's Education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye disagrees and said the Government has had two years to sort this issue out and blaming National was not good enough.

Information, released under the Official Information Act (OIA), reveals that since June 2016, the Government has spent almost half a million dollars on advertising in a bid to attract overseas teachers to work in New Zealand.

In the year to June, 2019 the Government spent a whisker under $200,000 on an advertising campaign to attract foreign teachers to the country.

And it appears the campaign was a success.

According to the Ministry of Education, more than 500 formally overseas teachers have been placed into roles since September 2018.

As well as this, more than 860 overseas-based teachers have received relocation grants to take up teaching positions in New Zealand.

"Following the campaign, there have been more than 17,000 applications from overseas teachers to work in New Zealand," the Ministry ofEducation's Deputy Secretary of Early Learning and Student Achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid said.

She added that there are currently close to 800 overseas teachers who have been screened and are ready for schools to interview.

But NZEI President Liam Rutherford said the Government's focus should be on training teachers in New Zealand, not looking to bring in more from overseas.

Although he welcomed overseas teachers coming to New Zealand, he said that should only be a short-term solution.

Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) President Jack Boyle said although the advertising campaign was "well worth the money" it is disappointing that it has got to the point where the Government had to look offshore for teachers.

"Due to a range of factors, including people leaving the workforce and an increase in the student population, we found ourselves with some pretty desperate shortages, particularly in secondary schools in Auckland."

He said the Government needed to do something to get sufficient teachers as quickly as possible to cover the shortfall.

On behalf of the Minister of Education, Duty Minister Jenny Salesa said the Government inherited a "teacher supply crisis" when it came into office in 2017.

Teacher enrolments were down by 40 per cent, she said.

However, she said the Government has been working to turn that trend around and Education NZ's overseas requirement drive is part of that plan.

She said that scheme was a "short-term measure to fill current gaps".

"We also have a comprehensive set of teacher supply initiatives to grow the number of New Zealand trained teachers in the medium to long-term."

Kaye said there has been "serious issues for some time" about how the Government attracts and retains quality teachers.

She said if National wins this year's election, it will put in place financial incentives which would help address both of those issues.

She added that there was a case to be made about having overseas teachers, but it is important that the balance is right.