Budget 2019: Government sets aside $95 million to hire more teachers

The Government has set aside $95 million to boost the number of teachers. 

More than 2400 additional trainee places will be funded through increased scholarships and placements, new employment-based teacher education programmes, and iwi-based scholarships. 

Another 800 will be funded through grants and the expansion of a voluntary bonding scheme.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said, in a pre-Budget announcement, schools are "crying out" for more teachers and the Government is now "delivering". 

He said more teachers will help with the quality of teaching and education children receive, adding that the Government is committed to addressing the "long term issue of teacher supply". 

"We're investing more funding in this Budget to get more teachers in front of classrooms than National managed over its entire nine years in office," he added, claiming teacher education enrolments dropped 40 percent under National.

"That's why we're creating financial incentives for ITE (initial teacher education) providers to increase the enrolment of ITE students and ensuring funding committed to teacher training cannot be used for other fields of study."

He said the funding will also support strengthened Teaching Council requirements that will "improve teaching quality such as the increased length of student placements in schools", which is expected to lead to better preparation of graduating teachers.

ACT leader David Seymour said instead of "empowering education bureaucrats" with new initiatives to administer, the Government "could have given this money to principals to provide the average teacher with a $2000 pay rise".

Seymour said: "Paying good teachers more would be a much better way of encouraging people into the profession."

In Budget 2018, the education sector was allocated nearly $2 billion extra over four years that would go towards 1500 new teachers, 200 new classrooms and a big boost to learning support.

The latest announcement comes after primary teachers and principals overwhelmingly rejected the latest offers from the Ministry of Education to settle their collective agreements. 

They have said the latest offer does not adequately address the "urgent need" for more time and more pay so they can attract and retain good teachers.

Post-Primary Teachers' Association president Jack Boyle said earlier this year class sizes of up to 60 aren't out of the question if the current teacher shortage isn't fixed. 

A mooted 'super-strike' involving both the PPTA and the New Zealand Educational Institute, which represents primary school teachers, isn't being ruled out.

The Ministry of Education's deputy-secretary for early learning and student achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid has argued that the latest offer is sufficient. 

She said last month the total cost of the revised Ministry of Education offer is $698 million over four years, which is $129 million more than the previous offer made in September 2018. 

Paid union meetings will take place in the second week of term 2 (May 6 - 10). If no progress is made, there is a proposal that members vote to take strike action by "working to rule" from May 15 until a national strike day on May 29.

"Working to rule" means only working within 8am - 5pm, Monday to Friday, with no work taking place outside of these hours.