Doubt over teacher training moves

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by Greta Yeoman

Principals say they are unsure if moves by the Government to fund teacher training will accomplish much without implementing the requests under their collective bargaining.

South Canterbury Primary Principals’ Association acting president Jonathan Young, of Waimate Centennial School, expressed mixed reactions to the announcement earlier this month by the Government that it would provide a range of scholarships and employment-based training courses to fund 2840 additional trainee teachers.

“Will it make a difference? Not on its own,” he said.

South Canterbury Primary Principals’ Association acting president Jonathan Young, of Waimate Centennial School.

He thought more incentives to boost teacher numbers nationwide was a good thing, but without the collective bargaining requests of teachers’ unions, it would do little for those actually in the job.

The union requests – for secondary and primary teachers – include reducing class sizes, increasing release time, providing extra support for challenging pupils and bringing pay levels back to the same level as other social services.

“[We] don’t have enough time to teach.”

Mr Young said the additional training scheme was “a good move” by the Government, but it would be truly beneficial to the profession and its staff if it was backed up by improvements to the day-to-day situation.

“[They] have put the cart before the horse.”

His comments were echoed by Canterbury West Coast Secondary Principals’ Association president Phil Holstein, who said training more teachers would help as an “interim measure”.

“It’s a start.”

However, the situation with staffing in schools would improve significantly only when working conditions improved and there was a “change in perception” about teaching as a profession, he said.

Mr Holstein, of Christchurch, said various reports showed about half of teachers were leaving the profession for good within the first five years.

“That’s a disturbing thing.”

This year’s Budget is set to fund 1860 scholarships for trainees in hard-to-staff subject areas, 300 employment-based training places in low-decile secondary schools and 80 iwi-based scholarships.