Government not using major tool to attract teachers

21 August 2017

The Government must immediately investigate why beginning teachers and principals are not aware of a $17,500 incentive payment to keep teachers in Auckland.

The "voluntary bonding scheme" was introduced in 2009 to attract and retain beginning teachers to areas of Auckland and other regions struggling with a lack of teachers.

But despite the teacher supply being at crisis point in many areas, the Government has failed to promote what could be a vital tool in addressing the crisis.

Just 12 teachers nationally applied for the scheme this year, despite hundreds being potentially eligible. Principals and teachers have told NZEI they were unaware that such a payment existed.

“This scheme has the potential to make a real difference to schools in Auckland who can’t find staff, and would be life-changing for teachers who can’t afford to live in the city,” said NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart.

Mrs Stuart, who is on leave from her role as Principal at May Road School in Mt Roskill, said that some schools in Auckland were so strapped for teachers that they were doubling up classes or considering sending students home. 

“It is bizarre that while there is so much publicity about the teacher supply crisis, the Government has kept quiet about a major tool for helping to address it.”

She said that rural schools which were eligible and had trouble recruiting teachers would also be helped by the scheme.

The scheme - which pays beginning teachers $3500 a year for up to five years if they teach continuously for at least three years in an eligible school - appears not to have been actively promoted since 2009-2010. 

Mrs Stuart said to address the Auckland crisis, the Government should:

  • Widely promote and fast-track approval and payment for all currently eligible teachers
  • Approve payments retrospectively to all eligible teachers who have missed out over the past five years because of the Government's failure to promote the scheme;
  • Widen the number of eligible schools, particularly in Auckland, to include all hard-to-staff schools;
  • Resource workforce planning and a genuine voluntary bonding scheme that guarantees permanent employment for teaching graduates in their first years of teaching. This would help ensure sustainable staffing of schools and provide better quality support and mentoring for new teachers in the foundation years of their careers.

In response to this issue being raised with the ministry, Minister Nikki Kaye announced today that the scheme would be reviewed and a number of other initiatives would be phased in.

For more information, see the NZEI Te Riu Roa report on the Voluntary Bonding scheme.

For further details on the scheme, see TeachNZ.

Parliamentary written answers providing data on the Voluntary Bonding Scheme can be found on the Parliament website

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