By: Melanie Earley.
Many students across the country are missing out on specialised subjects due to a shortage of teachers.
Finding teachers to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) has become increasingly hard for many secondary schools resulting in teachers trained in other subjects stepping in or subjects being cut from the curriculum.
Fawziyyah Khan is a science teacher at Auckland’s Zayed College for Girls, in Mangere, who specialises in biology, but due to the shortage, she now teaches maths and physics.
Having teachers dealing with subjects outside of their speciality has a lot of implications for both students and teachers,» she said.
Khan said she felt she didn’t initially have the skills to effectively teach her students maths so she ended up spending countless hours researching and studying.
«I took up a scholarship from Auckland Airport to help me upskill in maths, in the meantime I was planning my classes, doing my own research and having to report on National Standards.
«The only thing that kept me going was the commitment to my students to help them improve, even though I would rather teach biology which is my passion.»
The first year of maths teaching was purely «survival» for Khan.
«I really felt for those students because I felt like we had failed them through not being able to provide them with a maths specialist.»
Schools are «struggling», Auckland Secondary Schools Principals’ Association (ASSPA) spokesman and principal of Glendowie College Richard Dykes said, and it was getting harder to replace teachers.
At Glendowie College Dykes said they had been lucky so far but there had been trouble when one of their two physics teachers left.
«We couldn’t fill the position – we ended up having to get a teacher in from overseas.»
Te Reo Māori was another subject that was hard to fill positions in, Dykes said.
«We came very close to having to cancel the subject altogether we couldn’t find any teachers – we advertised and got no applications.»
New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association spokeswoman Liz Robinson said the shortage of teachers in STEM was something that concerned the Association «all day, everyday».
A secondary school staffing survey by the association identified 7000 students who were affected by the teaching of subjects by non-specialists in the responding schools.
One principal involved in the survey said hard materials courses were hard to staff.
«I would have to say there is a lack of depth in the number of applicants. We were lucky that for most positions we had one quality applicant who accepted the position.»
Another principal said it was «almost impossible» to find technology staff at a rural area school.
«Most of the teachers in this curriculum area are close to retirement and no one is being trained to take their place.
«Recruitment is now my most pressing source of stress and anxiety.»
Stress has been mounting for principals around the country in regards to the on-going teacher shortage, and many are worried vacancies for 2019 won’t be covered.
«There’s more and more stress for principals as they try to secure teachers for vacancies in their schools,» New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) President, Whetu Cormick, said.
Cormick said a number of factors needed addressing in the industry to entice teachers to work in New Zealand, including reducing work loads, substantial pay increases, and increased support, especially for severe behavioural issues.
«The ministry has not had a workforce strategy in the past to monitor and plan so that we could be assured of a sustainable workforce for the future.
«We had no data on which to predict the shortages we are now facing,» he said.
The Ministry of Education said new initiatives were in place to recruit teachers for 2019.
Up to an extra 650 primary teachers and 200 or so secondary teachers would be needed for 2019 – adding to the country’s pool of around 70,000 teachers.
The Government has made available an extra $10.5 million funding in the past week, on top of the $29.5 million already allocated since late last year to increase teacher supply.
The Ministry’s Deputy Secretary of Early Learning and Student Achievement, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, says «we’re expanding our marketing and recruitment drive, and introducing new initiatives – such as a $10,000 grant for schools to help with mentoring and training costs for new graduate teachers».
Over 6000 overseas-based teachers are also being targeted in a new campaign to attract them to New Zealand.
Source of the article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/107901288/It-concerns-us-all-day-everyday-Lack-of-STEM-teachers-hitting-hard-at-schools