A new education workforce strategy is the first major step towards tackling a looming teacher shortage that threatens to engulf our schools if action is not taken, says Education Minister Chris Hipkins.
The strategy is desperately needed to make up for a lack of long-term planning over the past few years, according to Mr Hipkins .
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“The numbers tell the story. By 2030 student numbers are expected to increase from 800,000 to 850,000. There are fewer new teachers – the number of graduating teachers fell from 5,875 in 2012 to 3,665 in 2016. And we have aging teaching workforce – 42% of teachers are now over 50, and 20% are over 60 years old.
“Up till now, while there are a number of initiatives underway to address current shortages, there has been no plan in place for the future.”
Mr Hipkins said the plan is to be developed, by the end of the year, in partnership with the sector and will cover early learning, primary and secondary education, the learning support workforce, both Māori-medium and English-medium, and Māori language learning in all settings.
It will look for quick wins, including how to reduce red tape and the administrative burden on teachers and school leaders.
The Strategy will focus on five key areas:
• Developing a common view of how the workforce will contribute to the Government’s vision for education, including commitments to strengthen te reo Māori.
• Attracting, recruiting and retaining a diverse and high quality workforce; and lifting workforce capability and capacity.
• Addressing existing issues, such as fluctuations in supply and demand.
• Addressing the impact of technology on early learning, classroom teaching and in-school practices.
• Minimising compliance-focused workload to ensure that teachers have the time to focus on teaching and learning.
Data about teachers and teaching is held across different education agencies in data sets that are not all linked effectively, intimates Mr Hipkins.
Those agencies are working to develop more comprehensive and high quality data about the education workforce, which will enable the planning required to ensure that supply better matches demand.
The strategy will be reviewed annually to keep it up to date with new thinking and practices.