Whakaritenga - Preparation Mā roto hoki kia ora Ka pai te kōrero When refreshed, the conversation will be agreeable
Kia ora e te whānau
Welcome to the final term of the year! I wish I had better news for you. I don't. Too many of you have been contacting me saying you are deeply distressed about vacancies in your schools that you cannot fill either now or for the start of 2019.
Teacher Shortage The teacher shortage has been brewing for a while and you will have seen or heard me in the media over the past months talking about lifting the status of the profession. I have talked about excessive work loads, insufficient support for young people with severe learning challenges and low pay rates. I have said that unless we address all of these issues, we will continue to have a teacher shortage.
There are a number of other factors too, that play into the teacher shortage dilemma.
The factor of highest impact is that the number of Initial Teacher Education trainees dropped by 40% between 2010 and 2016. At the same time, New Zealand's population grew by 400,000.
The next factor is that the 'baby boomer' teachers are all reaching retirement.
Also negatively influencing school leavers about choosing a career in teaching was the introduction of national standards. National standards created a culture of accountability and focus on data collection which demoralised teachers. Teachers are inspired to make a difference for young peoples' learning through engaging them in exciting experiences and leading them to reach higher and higher possibilities. National standards sucked the excitement from classrooms and the profession stopped being an attractive career option.
The new Government is trying to address all of these issues at once, but can't fix everything immediately. We acknowledge the Minister for removing national standards from legislation this very week. We know that eliminating this negative influence will make teaching a much more attractive career for our young school graduates. And we acknowledge the Ministry for developing a planning tool that hopefully, over time, will give confidence to projecting future workforce requirements.
The planning tool has only been launched this week too and is not fully developed. For example, at the secondary level, the tool tells us how many teachers are needed but it doesn't tell us in what subject areas we need more teachers. Some of the assumptions that the tool is based on are questionable, but over time improvements will be made. We see this as a good start but will not cure our problems in the short term. You can also examine information on teaching staff from 2007 - 2017 here.
You will have heard about plans to recruit teachers from overseas, encourage NZ trained teachers back to NZ, get more young people into teacher training, expand bonding schemes and TeachNZ scholarships, give free access to refresher courses for teachers trying to renew lapsed registration, launching advertising campaigns and all with multi-million dollar price tags. The question is, will all of this be enough to get the right number of teachers in front of our young people by the start of next year? That is the dilemma we as principals are facing.
Principal Wellbeing There are so many complexities to the job of principal and trying to fill teacher vacancies during a teacher shortage is just one of them. Well-being surveys that have been commissioned by NZEI and now funded by both NZEI and NZPF, repeatedly show that principals work long hours, experience high stress levels, have insufficient professional support and insufficient resources to accommodate young people with severe behaviour and learning challenges.
Well-being has been a focus for NZPF for some years and was the theme of our Queenstown conference last year. In searching for ways to support you, we have partnered with the Resilience Institute who offer a research-based programme to improve resilience. The programme delivers benefits including increased performance physically, emotionally and mentally and reduces risk to safety, mental health and illness. It is based on using the Institute's innovative diagnostic and digital tools. NZPF members can access this programme at a much discounted rate of $63 per participant rather than the usual $135. You can find out more about the programme by reading the notice below in the notices section.
Draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan You will recall in Principal Matters (28) last term, I outlined the contents of the draft Disability & Learning Support Plan. Minister Martin is now inviting your feedback on the plan.
Learning Support has long been the area that has concerned you the most as you struggle to accommodate the growing number of severely challenged young people in your schools, so please take this opportunity to give Minister Martin feedback now so that your voice can be included in this plan. Minister Martin has used many sources to construct this draft plan, including feedback from surveys NZPF has conducted over the years. She has also been out talking to many schools, specialist groups and regions. That said, she has made it very clear that this plan is not final. She wants the plan to be right for you. In the notices below you will find a link to the plan and to the feedback form. Please send in your feedback. You have been asking for this opportunity for a long time.
Industrial Ballot All NZEI members will have received ballot forms from Electionz.com this week. The Ministry's latest offer has already been rejected and this ballot will decide whether or not you support further strike action. You have till Thursday 25 October to return your vote.
Next week is NZPF Conference week in Wellington, so I won't send out the usual Principal Matters. I look forward to seeing you there.