Overseas teacher recruits won’t last without improvements to workload

Ministry of Education recruiters have received around 3000 applications from overseas teachers.

NZEI Te Riu Roa has welcomed the Ministry of Education’s efforts in recruiting 550 overseas primary and secondary teachers for 2019, but warns these teachers won’t stay long without improvements to workload.

“The huge workload and large class sizes that are driving New Zealanders out of teaching will be felt even more keenly by overseas teachers who are also getting their head around a new curriculum and understanding different cultural requirements,” NZEI President Lynda Stuart said.

“The drive to recruit overseas teachers is a necessary short-term requirement in the current crisis, but we fear that the huge expense of overseas recruitment will be repeated every year until we fix the core issue – teachers are burning out because of the unreasonable demands of the job.”

Principals have also frequently raised the issue of the additional requirements schools face in mentoring overseas teachers.

Stuart said teachers and principals were also very concerned that the Ministry’s modelling was flawed and based on false assumptions that underestimated the extent of the crisis.

The ministry’s recruitment drive to attract teachers to New Zealand was already helping to cover the extra 850 primary and secondary teachers needed for 2019, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, the Ministry of Education’s Deputy Secretary for Early Learning and Student Achievement, said.

“These overseas teachers are supplementing our locally-trained workforce, while we continue to encourage more New Zealanders to train or return to teaching, and overseas Kiwis to come home to our classrooms.

“Our recruiters have received around 3000 applications from overseas teachers, with hundreds currently making their way through the recruitment pipeline.”

MacGregor-Reid said: “Every overseas teacher will meet all the existing standards here for teaching qualifications, registration with the Teaching Council, and immigration requirements. Principals only need to pick up the phone to our education recruiters, and they will match available teachers to vacancies.

“Although the number of vacancies being registered by principals is so far low, we’re delighted that 100 job offers have already been made to teachers coming from overseas. These include teachers from the United Kingdom, South Africa, the United States and Canada who will be working throughout the New Zealand – including primary teachers in low decile schools, and commerce and technology teachers for secondary schools in South Canterbury and South Auckland.

“We have an even spread of primary and secondary teachers available, and most are happy to work in Auckland – which is one area where we know there are shortages.

“These teachers will receive targeted support to transition to New Zealand. We’re working with the Teaching Council to strengthen training in our curriculum and the culturally responsive practices needed to work here.”