The Government’s pre-Budget education announcement today is a mixed bag for the sector, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“While it is positive Education Minister Chris Hipkins has abandoned his focus on overseas teachers to try and ensure we have New Zealand trained teachers in classrooms, it is pointless if collective bargaining issues can’t be resolved.
“During the election campaign Labour built up high expectations around pay rises and working conditions for teachers. They’re not following through and have found themselves in a gridlock with the profession with primary and secondary strikes imminent.
“The package announced will also fall short of providing more than 8000 extra teachers over the next five years that the Ministry of Education’s own data indicates could be needed in classrooms.
“The PPTA has previously stated that larger class sizes are likely if these teacher shortages can’t be resolved.
“It’s been two years since National announced the development of an Education Workforce Strategy. It’s unbelievable that the Government is half way through their first term and they still don’t have a plan, only the ‘vision statement’ that was released today.
“By not releasing a plan that shows how many teachers are actually needed, the Government can avoid being held to account, flying in the face of its promise to be open and transparent.
“It’s good to see Mr Hipkins has backtracked on his decision to scrap National’s plan to extend voluntary bonding to further hard-to-staff areas, but he has provided little detail and fast-growing places like Auckland need certainty now.
“The Teach First NZ funding is also welcome, but is just an extension of what already exists.
“The reality is the Minister has trumpeted increases in the number of people going into teacher training, however it’s my understanding that the numbers in secondary teacher training in places like Auckland have decreased, not increased.
“Without resolving collective bargaining issues around pay and workload, providing further incentives for teachers who have the left the profession to come back and doing more to urgently increase the number of people in teacher training, we will be thousands of teachers short in classrooms over the coming years.”
A link to the Ministry of Education’s new Teacher Demand and Supply Planning Tool can be found here.