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?”
“We accept that finding a job can be challenging for new teacher graduates, and encourage them to look at a range of options when seeking a position, such as teaching in rural areas,”
Graham Stoop (Ministry of Education)
Thank you, Dr Stoop, for your comments. As Basil Fawlty would say, you get an A Level in the bleeding obvious.
Teachers searching for work are doing all they can to secure a job, and such simplistic advice doesn’t help.
It’s easy for Stoop to make these Tebbit-esque “on your bike” pronouncements, but unemployed teachers with bills and student loans to pay don’t want a meme-style answer or a simplistic and ill-considered life hack. What they do want is proper advice based on proper research into the problem and proper help finding appropriate work.
Or here’s a thought – why not stop churning out more and more new primary school teachers year on year into an already flooded market.
So thanks for your advice, Dr Stoop, but let’s be clear – it’s not that teachers are not trying to find jobs, it’s that there is a job shortage.
On his sage advice to look for jobs in rural areas, does Dr Stoop even have evidence that rural schools are crying out for applicants?
I know of well qualified teachers with years of experience who have had trouble finding jobs in rural NZ. So how easy would it be for a BT? Or someone who’s been out of the job market for a few years? I assume Stoop has some clear facts and figures showing that things are better in, say, Matamata or Wanaka, than in Auckland or Christchurch, or why would you make these pronouncements?
NZEI did some research recently and found that over half of new graduates would indeed consider moving to find a job but, as was pointed out, even for those who would move, it’s not that straightforward.
For example, a teacher can’t always just upend their partner from their job in order to move to a rural school. Or does Dr Stoop think, perhaps, that all those struggling to find teaching positions are single, 21 year old BTs, able to go where the wind takes them?
There are many complexities to the problem, but what it boils down to is very simple maths. Lots of job applicants and not many job. It’s really that simple.
And all the bike rides, sage advice and 120gsm vellum paper CVs in the world won’t magically make thousands of unemployed teachers fit into a handful of teaching jobs.