A new tool released by the Ministry of Education today to estimate the number of teachers required in the future is a good first step, but has some significant flaws and is too late to fundamentally affect the teacher shortage crisis schools face in 2019.

 “We applaud the Ministry for doing work on this after years of neglect from the previous government, when frankly we had no data we could rely on about teacher supply and demand,” said NZEI TE Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart.

“We urgently need data that accurately reflects the numbers of teachers needed for tamariki in our schools and early childhood education centres or the crisis will get worse because the government and sector cannot accurately plan,” Ms Stuart said.

 “Children are the ones who will ultimately suffer when we can’t work out how many teachers are needed.

 “Early childhood is not in these projections and we know that already there are problems with recruiting and retaining teachers in that sector. There is a shortage and it is getting worse. This is such an important time in a child’s life and learning and this needs urgent attention.''

The initial findings from the Ministry report states that in 2019 New Zealand will be 650 primary teachers short.

 “We think that is conservative. The model is based on a number of assumptions, some of which are flawed and most of which are untested as yet.  It could be several years before we see how accurate the tool is."

 The Ministry report uses 2017 as the base year in the model because it says that in that year the demand for teachers was “equal to the number of teachers that were actually employed”.

 “We do not agree with this, we know from our own surveys at the time that principals, particularly in Auckland were struggling to fill roles

"It is also based on a head-count of teachers from their payroll, which does not accurately reflect the number of full-time teacher equivalents needed by schools. We know that, increasingly, many teachers have opted to work part-time, so a tool based on a full-time equivalent measure (FTTE) would provide more accurate data."