Three hundred overseas-qualified teachers will be able to come to New Zealand under a new class border exception, the country’s education minister Chris Hipkins has announced.
“While the overall outlook for domestic teacher supply remains positive, I know that Early Childhood Education (ECE) services and schools continue to find certain locations and subjects difficult to recruit for,” the minister said.
“This will give principals and services additional support – especially for 2022 recruitment – and complement existing teacher supply initiatives.”
According to the New Zealand Ministry of Education, it will work with the education sector to ensure that ECE services and schools with the greatest recruitment needs get priority. It will thus invite applications for these teachers from September.
Teachers previously in NZ may also be eligible
“Teachers who were already employed in New Zealand, but who left the country and were unable to return to their job due to the border closure may also be eligible,” Hipkins noted.
He added that a separate family reunification border exception is being created for the partners and dependent children of teachers who are already in the country on temporary visas.
“A lot of families were separated when border restrictions were put in place to protect New Zealand from Covid-19 and we know this has been hard for them. We’re pleased we’re at last able to reunite teachers with their families,” Hipkins said.
Teachers already in New Zealand will be able to request to bring in their partners and dependent children for the duration of their visa.
Auckland school principals warned of shortages
In February this year, Radio New Zealand reported a warning from Auckland school principals that the city’s ongoing shortage of secondary teachers was causing schools to make compromises or abandon some subjects altogether.
Secondary Principals’ Association President, Deidre Shea, who is Principal of Auckland’s Onehunga High School, said schools were already using unusual measures to cope with the shortage this year.
“We can usually attract somebody either who had perhaps retired, or into teaching a subject that isn’t their specialty normally … that kind of thing to cover the shortfall. That’s the sort of thing you can do for a fixed period of time,” she told Radio New Zealand.
Shea added that such solutions were short-term, and things were likely to get worse when the borders reopened, allowing New Zealand teachers to go overseas and foreign students to return.