CRAIG HOLT, PRINCIPAL, WILLOW PARK SCHOOL AND VICE PRESIDENT, AUCKLAND PRIMARY PRINCIPALS’ ASSOCIATION

On his initial reaction to the results of the Ministry’s forecasting tool…

My first reaction was at least it’s a bit closer to what we’ve been telling them over the last little while. I still think, personally, they’re a little bit shy of the numbers they need, but at least it’s getting closer to what we think.

On shortages at his school…

We’re fairly lucky, demographically we sit in a higher decile area – which, for some, it may be more attractive for to teach at. But we, on a weekly basis, on a daily basis, have been splitting classrooms; we don’t go a day really without having to move classrooms around because we’re not able to find any other options for our classes. We’re probably lucky that we’ve only had to do that with one or two classes over a week, but for some of the schools, even in our local area, I know that that’s happening on a daily basis and across multiple classrooms. Currently we are fully staffed but we’re fully staffed because we’ve been creative. We have had to drop a couple of specialist programs that we were running, to pull the teachers out to staff classrooms, and we’ve had to create job share situations where we wouldn’t normally have to. Personally I don’t think they are the ideal situation, having a three-two-day split, but at the moment we are taking what we can get.

On whether the Ministry’s new initiatives around hiring overseas teachers will help alleviate the shortage…

I think they’ll get some uptake because there’ll be plenty of teachers overseas who maybe naturally were looking at coming home anyway, or coming to New Zealand, so they may just bring those plans forward. But I’m a little bit dubious – it’s fine to say that you’re going to recruit an extra 900, 1200 teachers, but actually you’ve got to do something proactive to find them, and that’s what I think is lacking a little bit.

On what he would recommend to find those teachers…

I can only talk from the Auckland perspective but we’re living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. It’s a beautiful city, it’s a beautiful country, from my perspective it’s paradise on earth, but why would somebody come here to take what is literally a pay cut to come and live in one of the most expensive cities. They’ve really got to do something with the pay and conditions that surround teachers. The workload is massive and the pay just isn’t appropriate for the amount of work people do.

On whether he has had teachers leave his school for greener pastures…

We have had teachers leave, we’ve got a lot of teachers leaving out into the regions – so out of Auckland to cheaper areas – because their wage is transportable, they earn the same amount of money in the regions as they would in Auckland so they can transport that wage and have a much better standard of living and afford a home and all those sorts of things. I’ve got a very close friend, they’re a young couple, and they just couldn’t make ends meet in Auckland but they’ve moved down to Tauranga and they’ve been able to afford a house and are starting to get themselves ahead. It’s sort of [like] why wouldn’t you, that’s really the question. The APPA has been pushing for some form of Auckland allowance or some form of recognition of the cost of living in Auckland for a long time and I think until that’s addressed, you may not get as many people as we’re being told coming back into teaching in these areas.

On whether the shortage will get worse…

Yes. The horse has already bolted and we’re talking  about a 12-week window, maybe a 15-week window before school starts up again after the summer. And having gone through it recently with a young teacher we employed from the US, it’s not a quick process to get people here and their qualification authorised and their salary assessed, so I think next year’s going to be tough. If some of these initiatives come to fruition then maybe the following year, 2020, we’ll see things ease, but I think next year’s going to be tough.

 

RICHARD DYKES, PRINCIPAL, GLENDOWIE COLLEGE AND PRESIDENT, AUCKLAND SECONDARY SCHOOLS PRINCIPALS’ ASSOCIATION

On his initial reaction to the results of the Ministry’s forecasting tool…

I’m really pleased that the Ministry has put the time and effort into creating this. By their own acknowledgement they didn’t have it beforehand and it’s been much-needed so good on them for doing that. As we’re seeing on the ground, the situation is just getting more desperate. You talk to principals who have been in this game for 20-plus years and they’re saying this is the worst they’ve ever experienced, in terms of trying to find staff, especially in high demand subjects such as physics, maths, science and technology and te reo Māori. We’ve got a lot of schools right now who simply cannot find technology teachers. We were advertising for a te reo Māori teacher and got no applicants. I contacted universities across New Zealand and [found] two graduates at one of them. I flew one of them to Auckland – he didn’t want to come to Auckland. We were right on the cusp of cancelling te reo Māori as a subject at this school until at the eleventh hour we were able to find someone in Australia, and they’re coming to us next year. But that’s the kind of situation that we’re starting to hear a lot more of. We’re hearing about principals collapsing courses, like running a Year 12 and Year 13 class together, more and more teachers teaching outside of their areas of expertise. We’re getting teachers leaving Auckland. I’ve got a teacher leaving for Australia, he loves the school, loves the kids, but he said, in his words, ‘I’m tired of being poor’. He’s going to be earning $30,000 more than he is here. We’ve just got to do something about this.

On the size of the shortage…

The obvious [question] is, what’s causing this gap? Is it 2500 [teachers] or is it going to be more than that? Personally, I think that’s going to be conservative, but at the end of the day whether it’s 2500, or 3500, why is it that there’s a gap? Why is it that young teachers are not going into teaching? Why are we not getting the best and brightest Kiwis, stepping up? Why aren’t we getting kids [saying] ‘yeah, I want to be a teacher’?

On why the shortage is so bad in Auckland…

There’s a number of things going on. You’ve got the primary bubble coming through to secondary, which we’ve known about for donkey’s years. That’s been around and we can see it tracking through. We’ve got exceptionally high migration and the bulk of migration happens in Auckland, most immigrants will come to Auckland. We have got the highest population growth in Auckland … we have got more people leaving Auckland because of the cost of living. I remember talking to a colleague who’s married to a nurse, and they just said, ‘we’re going to Tauranga, we can afford to buy a house with some property down there’. They can’t do that in Auckland, so we’ve got people leaving Auckland for that reason. We’ve also got quite a high drop-out rate, which has got to be a worry. It’s scarily high, the number of people leaving teaching after four or five years. And you put all those things together and you’ve just got a perfect storm, and the consequence is principals are struggling to get teachers in front of students.

On the future of the workforce…

Are we going to see more people leaving? We know we’ve got older teachers in the sector. My personal take is that we’ve seen low retirement rates, because there’s been a shortage [so] teachers have been staying on. You’ve seen a significantly aging workforce over the last few years, they’ve got to start leaving the workforce, common sense says they’ll start leaving. You’ll start seeing that going on at the same time as you start seeing people leave Auckland, [and] if [the migration rate] goes up it’s going to impact Auckland. I’m not saying [the Ministry’s predications] are miles out. The question is, what are the parameters? They’ve given a single figure – what would be a high rate, what would a low rate look like, what are the different scenarios?

On whether the Ministry’s new initiatives around hiring overseas teachers will help alleviate the shortage…

I think there will be some principals who will sleep a little bit better between now and Christmas because of this, I think it will have some impact. Overall, I think we’re too late for 2019. The first policy around the beginning teachers shadowing experienced teachers, we don’t get the details about that until November [and] that means I can’t do anything about it til mid-November. I’ve only got one, maximum two, advertising rounds before Christmas, so I can’t actually use that this year. So that’s going to have minimal impact. I totally appreciate the Minister putting that extra funding in, that’s brilliant, it’s good to see the Minister recognising that there is a crisis … but I think it’s too late in the year. They should’ve been announced back in May. And they don’t address the underlying issue, which is why are the best and brightest Kiwis not going into teaching?

On how we can attract more young people into teaching…

[We’ve] got to make it attractive, it’s got to be about the salary. There are other issues, there are workload issues, and those are important to address, but we would be short-sighted to say if we fix workload or we tweak the job and don’t fundamentally address the relativity of teacher pay, we’re going to see a fundamental change. It’s not getting any traction with young people – when I talk to young people they say it’s just not on the radar because of the pay. I don’t think pay is everything, but when young people just say ‘I’m not going to even consider it because of the pay’, we’re not getting any cut-through with the young people.