Teaching still a tough job few people want to do - National

The Government's $95 million recruitment drive won't fix the teacher shortage because it won't make being a teacher any easier, the Opposition and education groups say.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins revealed the new funding on Thursday, ahead of this year's Budget. All-up he hopes to recruit an extra 3200 teachers.

"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 said.

Labour MP Kris Faafoi echoed that line on The AM Show on Friday.

"If you look at the offer on the table in terms of the pay talks, it's $1.2 billion - that offer alone is larger than everything that was offered to teachers over the whole nine years of the National Government."

The number of people enrolling in teacher training dropped by nearly half between 2010 and 2016, according to the Ministry of Education, while National led the Government. It's since recovered slightly, but nowhere near enough to plug the gaps.

"This Government has got the idea that just throwing money at stuff will suddenly train teachers, the right sort of people who want to be teachers and can add value," National MP Judith Collins told The AM Show.

"It's like KiwiBuild, really, isn't it? We'll just throw money at it and somehow houses will magically appear. You've got to have the people here."

Judith Collins.
Judith Collins. Photo credit: The AM Show

But the people aren't there because the profession remains underpaid and overworked, despite the recent boosts and new offers, says primary teachers union NZEI president Lynda Stuart.

"Simply speaking, teaching needs to be a sustainable and attractive profession if we are to attract and retain teachers."

"Saying you'll magic up a couple of thousand more teachers, without addressing the underlying reasons why there's a teacher shortage in the first place, is counter-productive," said secondary teachers' union PPTA president Jack Boyle.

Documents provided to Newshub last year showed teacher pay has slipped back over the years. Their pay used to be close to that of a backbench MP - they now earn less than half.

'Not just found on the bookshelf'

Collins said it's hard not just to find people willing to become teachers, but the right kinds of people.

"It's not just work. You've got to have people... who have got the qualities to put up with 30 kids all day, every day... teach them, and have them and lead them. These are qualities that are not just found on the bookshelf."

Faafoi said it was good to hear now they're sitting on the Opposition benches, National now supports teachers.

"If only the National Party had been saying that for the nine years they were in Government. The teacher profession would have been much more supported."

Kris Faafoi.
Kris Faafoi. Photo credit: The AM Show

"Put it this way," replied Collins. "We didn't have the problems you've got."

Teachers are expected to vote next week on whether to hold a mega-strike involving both  secondary and primary schools.

"Understandably they're fed up. For the last nine years they were treated badly," said Faafoi.



Contact Newshub with your story tips: