Principals describe 2019 as 'the worst year' for teacher shortages, despite hundreds waiting for an interview

Principals say this year's teacher shortage has been the worst one yet as staff abandon the bigger centres in search of a more affordable lifestyle - despite a raft of new teachers ready to step up to the plate.

It's Groundhog Day for principals with the end of another year in sight - and more vacancies to fill.

Some have been dealing with teacher shortages for years, with 2019 being described as "the worst year" yet.

"It's the worst year, with increasing roles forecasted for the next 12 to 18 months, at least," says Ormiston Primary School principal, Heath McNeil. 

"We are battling to fill geography teaching positions at the moment, so it's spread beyond the traditional hard to staff areas, now across most aspects of the school," says One Tree Hill College principal, Nick Coughlan.

A drop-in centre in Auckland with the aim of pairing principals with prospective staff has even been established.

The Ministry of Education is adamant the overseas recruitment drive has the answers.

"We've got 900 teachers ready for interview right now for jobs and we want principals to know that, so we can help get these people into classrooms," says Pauline Cleaver from the Ministry of Education.

There may be the numbers, but they're not translating into teachers for centres like Auckland, where it's too expensive to live.

"The pressures of trying to pay to live in Auckland, travel in Auckland, as well as trying to be a teacher. All of that pressure mounts up. Something has to give," says Ormiston Primary School teacher Laura Takle.

Almost 2,000 teaching jobs are being advertised through the Ministry of Education. In the Auckland region there are 623 vacancies, while in neighbouring Waikato and Bay of Plenty, there are 349. In Wellington, there are 194 positions.

In the South Island, there are 250 vacancies in Canterbury and 100 in Otago.

The Ministry of Education says the overseas recruitment drive has so far enticed almost 400 new teachers to our shores, but with a ballooning student population, it simply isn't enough.

So the challenge of convincing our school leavers to return to teach remains.


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