The latest findings come from the New Zealand Council for Educational Research’s (NZCER) national survey looking into the top issues facing New Zealand’s secondary schools.

Conducted by senior researchers from the NZCER, Jo MacDonald and Linda Bonne, the survey was sent in 2018 to all 314 state and state-integrated English-medium secondary schools in New Zealand.

According to the findings, recruiting quality teachers was the top issue for principals (identified by 73 per cent).

School decile or school location was not seen as a determining factor, with principals across the board sharing similar concerns in attracting quality teachers.

Providing support for vulnerable students was the second most identified issue by principals (66 per cent), while funding for schools was the third biggest concern (64 per cent).

The proportion of principals reporting they needed more funding and, access to external expertise, to help their school work with students with mental health needs increased sharply (62 per cent in 2018, compared with 36 per cent in 2015).

Funding was also reported as a major issue, with just 8 per cent of principals considering government funding as sufficient in meeting their school’s needs.

Due to a lack of funding, 60 per cent of principals said they were forced to reduce spending in 2018, up from 46 per cent in 2015.

Principals identified that the reduction in spending had negative effects on schools’ provision of co-curricular experiences, quality of curriculum resourcing and the practical components of courses.

Aimed at providing an insight into how teachers, principals, trustees and parents view the secondary education system, the NZCER survey is conducted every three years.