Principals forced to slash teacher aide hours but can’t find teachers for 2018

12 December 2017

An NZEI Te Riu Roa survey of 622 primary and intermediate school principals has found that 44% plan to cut teacher aide hours to meet budget in 2018, while 14% expect to be short of teachers and another 20% are not sure whether they will fill all roles.

Forty percent of responding principals* also said that if they had extra funding, hiring more teacher aides would be their top priority.

In Auckland, the teacher shortage is worse, with 20% of responding principals expecting to be unable to fill at least one or two teaching positions and 27% saying it is still too early to know.

NZEI President Lynda Stuart said the shortage of teachers and lack of funding for teacher aides was a double blow for children’s education and would have a serious impact on learning in many schools.

“This survey highlights how difficult it is to attract and retain teachers into the profession and also the inadequacy of school operational budgets,” she said.

“Except for centrally-funded teacher salaries, schools have to cover all their running costs from their operational budgets. Most costs are fixed and despite the vital importance of teacher aides to support children’s learning, their hours are usually the first casualties of an overstretched budget.”

Ms Stuart said every child had the right to the personal attention they needed to learn and thrive.

“Schools need a huge boost to their operational funding, so they can hire the teacher aides they need to support children’s learning.

“We also need to ensure we have enough teachers by attracting more great people to teaching, by respecting them as professionals, freeing them to teach and paying them properly.”

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Of those principals having to cut teacher aide hours, 35% are cutting up to 10% of total hours and 32% are cutting 11-20% of total hours. 11% are cutting more than 40% of hours.
  • Principals’ top spending priorities for any extra funding: 41% would hire more teacher aides, 24% would spend it on general running costs, 12% would spend it on school trips and activities.
  • 74% said it was hard or very hard to find reliever teachers this year.
  • 79% believe it will be hard or very hard to find reliever teachers next year.
  • The main ways principals plan to cope with the teacher shortage are larger classes, principals and senior leaders teaching classes, and splitting classes and putting students into other classes when a reliever can’t be found.

*An email survey was sent to 1948 primary and intermediate school principals, with almost a third responding.

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