New report demonstrates education’s staffing crisis

An annual staffing survey from PPTA Te Wehengarua has found more classes are being cancelled, and applications for positions are at new lows.

Amid ongoing industrial action to protest sector conditions, a new report released by PPTA Te Wehengarua starkly outlines the staffing crisis in the secondary education sector.  

The PPTA Te Wehengarua staffing survey report 2023 was carried out in March this year. The union has been conducting its staffing survey since 1996. It contained responses from 127 principals from state secondary and area schools, representing 27 percent of principals in the country.  

Read the Term 1 edition of School News HERE.

It found 30 percent of secondary and area school principals had to cancel or transfer classes due to insufficient staffing.  

One in four schools cancelled classes, and one in two schools transferred classes. It’s the highest proportion of cancelled and transferred classes on record. 

The survey also found that applications for teaching positions were the lowest on record, with only 1.6 New Zealand applicants per position and 3.2 overseas applicants. Before COVID average New Zealand applicants per position were at 3.4. Ten years ago, that number was 9.9 and overseas applicants were at 6.8 per position.  

A full 48 percent of schools that responded to the survey had non-specialist teachers because they couldn’t find properly trained and qualified staff.  

One third of advertised positions couldn’t be filled, and 5 percent were filled by applicants with Limited Authority to Teach (LAT).  

One in seven positions did not attract any applicants, whether from New Zealand or overseas.  

Chris Abercrombie, PPTA Te Wehengarua acting president said the results “show us that the secondary teacher shortage is beginning to have a serious impact on secondary education in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

“Secondary education is the gateway to the future for rangatahi and for Aotearoa New Zealand. It must be a profession that graduates are vying to get into, and where vacancies are fiercely competed for – not where classes are cancelled because teachers cannot be found.”  

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She has been covering education in New Zealand since 2022.
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