Why principals say $95m Budget announcement won't address actual teaching problems

The Government has announced its first major pre-Budget package: $95 million aimed at solving the teacher shortage.

It will provide scholarships for 2500 trainee teachers, but school principals say it doesn't address the actual problem - people simply don't want to become teachers.

At Fruitvale School, eight of 15 teachers are beginners.

"It's really difficult out there," principal Donal McLean told Newshub.

"We have got a severe strain on our experienced teachers to mentor those teachers, so they are working weekends and nights to get those teachers up to speed and to do their own work."

The Education Minister has promised nearly 2500 trainee scholarships over four years, with various scholarships and a new training programme.

"We are pretty confident we are going to be able to fill these positions," Chris Hopkins says.

The number of trainee teachers fell 45 percent in the six years after 2010. It's now ticking up, but not fast enough. Shortages have become so dire, the Government's flown in 354 teachers from overseas. There's also an ongoing industrial dispute with primary and secondary teachers.

"I think those that are signing up to teaching are looking at the pay and the conditions and it's clearly not putting them off," Hipkins says.

But when confronted by student teachers on Thursday, the Minister heard pay and conditions are indeed putting them off.

"We are going into a crazy amount of debt, we are on Work and Income, and then we come out of it and the pay inequality is an issue of its own," they told him.

Rebecca Hart says she's frustrated about the struggle to cover living costs while studying

"I'm basically just building up debt."

A big boost in teacher training is on the way, but that's not addressing concerns about conditions for those already in the classroom.

Both primary and secondary teachers will let the Government know if their concerns have been addressed when they decide whether to go ahead with strike action.

If the Government can't sort out those disputes, a mega strike could be on the cards.


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