The city of sails is too pricey for many teachers

Education crisis looming for Auckland

A survey of new primary and intermediate teachers in Auckland reveals large numbers are considering giving up teaching, and two thirds are planning or considering leaving the city because of its high accommodation costs.

Teachers’ union NZEI TE Riu Roa surveyed teachers with up to two years’ experience in May, asking how the cost of housing in Auckland was affecting them professionally.

These results reveal that the Auckland teacher shortage is looking to become an even bigger disaster than previously thought, with huge numbers of younger teachers planning to leave teaching, leave Auckland and even putting off having children.

More than 450 Auckland teachers responded to the survey, which found:

  • More than two thirds are thinking about or actively planning to leave Auckland
  • 94 per cent of male teachers under 35 are thinking about or definitely leaving Auckland
  • 64 per cent of all new educators surveyed have given up hope of ever owning their own home
  • 40 per cent of female teachers under 30 are deferring having their own children because of the high cost of living in Auckland

“Teachers have been warning for years about the teacher shortage in Auckland and the impact this will have on children’s education, and it’s beyond time for action,” said Malcolm Milner, Balmoral School principal and NZEI strategist on Auckland issues.

“NZEI members want to know if the Government has a plan for addressing the crisis, and if so, what it is. If the Government does not have a plan, then the question is why not? If it does, then show it to us.

“This survey indicates that in the future you’re going to see even fewer teachers available, or wanting to work in Auckland than now. This will have a major impact on the quality of education for children in Auckland.

“As a principal, I am devastated to think that Auckland is set to lose a generation of talented, dedicated teachers because they can’t afford to live here.

“It’s not our job to develop a plan for recruiting and retaining teachers in Auckland and other hard to staff areas – it’s the Government’s job.

“Any plan will need to address workforce planning – how many teachers we need and where they’re going to come from; ways to raise the status of teaching; teacher pay and conditions. We strongly feel that pay is too low, and the cost and provision of housing is a significant factor.

“This election is an opportunity to fix the underfunding of education and the teacher shortage. We want to make education central to the election. We believe New Zealanders will be looking to support parties that are prepared to back public education and educators,” said Mr Milner.

Comments from the survey include:

“I can’t move out of my parents’ place as I can’t afford the rent and travel.”

“Auckland is too expensive. Half of my wages goes on rent and what’s left is crumbs.”

“Can’t afford to live in Auckland, wanting to move out because the house prices and being a single parent is ridiculous.”

“I’m looking to take on a second job/weekend jo.b”

“We would like to sell up and move out of Auckland for a lower mortgage. We are slaves to our mortgage.”

About Anna Clements

Anna Clements is the School News print and digital editor. She has a background in journalism spanning 25 years across newspapers, magazines and television, and spent six years working as an editorial advisor to a group of ECE centres.

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