A survey of newly-graduated primary teachers has revealed massive underemployment and many beginning teachers in a state of stress, despair and debt.
NZEI’s New Educators Network spokesperson, Stephanie Lambourn, said there was a shortage of primary school jobs available and it was particularly difficult for new graduates, as not all roles were suitable for beginning teachers.
The Ministry of Education’s own figures show that just 15 percent of beginning teachers are getting fulltime, permanent teaching jobs.
Ms Lamborn feels fortunate to have secured a permanent role at Lower Hutt’s Avalon Intermediate, but many of her peers have spent a year or more unable to secure anything other than short-term contracts or a few relieving days.
“It’s incredibly stressful to have that sort of job insecurity,” she said.
“Even if a teacher gets a contract for a term or two to cover maternity leave or roll expansion, they are constantly having to look ahead and apply for new roles. They aren’t able to focus on giving their best to their class and are frequently missing out on the induction and mentoring they are supposed to receive as beginning teachers.”
NZEI Te Riu Roa surveyed 374 teachers who had graduated within the past five years or so.
Fifty-one percent of those surveyed reported that the requirement to reapply for positions had had a negative impact on their teaching.
Of those surveyed, 79 percent were provisionally certificated. Graduates have five years to gain full certification as teachers and this requires them to receive induction and mentoring from a senior colleague. When teachers are unable to get fulltime work, it becomes extremely difficult to meet the requirements of certification.
NZEI TE Riu Roa President Louise Green said the Ministry of Education needed to make workforce planning a priority and ensure that beginning teachers were getting the support they needed. Schools also needed to ensure that they weren’t unlawfully offering or extending fixed term positions to “keep their options open” when they should be offering permanent positions.
“It’s a devastating waste of their time, passion and money to earn their teaching qualification but not be able to get reliable work at the end of it – not to mention the wasted cost to taxpayers for their training,” said Ms Green.
“Many of our baby boomer teachers will be retiring in the next few years, and what will happen then? These beginning teachers can’t wait around forever and if they’re not getting the experience, induction and mentoring they need, who will fill the gap?”