Lost Learning as a result of COVID and Teacher Supply announcement speech

Tēnā koutou katoa kua tae mai nei i tēnei rā, i Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.

He mihi nui ki a koe e te rangatira Matua  nāu i tuku karakia.

E ngā kaikaranga, e ngā kaikōrero, he mihi mahana ki a koutou.

He mihi tēnei ki a koutou, e ngā ringa raupā o te ao Mātauranga.

E ngā rangatira mō āpōpō, tamariki/rangatahi mā, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

Thank you for your warm welcome. I am here today to tell you about some important announcements which are designed to help with your learning.

Many of us have first-hand knowledge of how COVID disrupted learning among our children and young people, and the impact that had on whānau and families.

School closures, staff and student illness, isolation and other factors have combined over the last three years to turn our normal learning routines on their head. 

It is widely acknowledged that many children and young people have not made the learning progress they would normally make.

There have been high rates of absence due to illness, with reports that some learners not wanting to return to school because they feel that they cannot keep up.

But as we emerge from the worst of COVID, new opportunities appear. Principals who joined a recent online hui shared how their COVID experiences were not always negative and that sometimes were the catalyst to innovation and doing things differently.

That made me think about how we could boost the great learning already happening. I asked my officials to see what we could do immediately to help give a boost to those who need it.

Today I am announcing a $20 million dollar package to relight the fuse for learning.

Let me start by outlining some specific initiatives recently approved by the Government  and then touch on our critical work to attract more teachers.

These initiatives will give students opportunities to catch up on learning they may have missed due to disruptions caused by COVID. These supports, for years 7 to 13, will be available in Term 4 of this year and Term 1 of next.

They include:

  • Supporting Māori and Pacific students to gain NCEA credits. The Ministry of Education is investing $2m working with existing community-led programmes across the country to re-start or expand their coverage during Term 4 2022.
  • The cap on Te Kura dual tuition summer school enrolments will be increased by 500 places over the 2022-23 summer.
  • Students in Years 11 – 12 who need to achieve NCEA credits, which they were unable to complete during the school year, can participate.
  • In addition, the Government has committed $17.4m to provide additional teaching and tutoring for students in years 7 – 13 by making funding available to schools to arrange additional tutoring and teaching. 
  • As part of the additional teaching and tutoring initiative, the Ministry will also directly purchase tutoring and other support for non-enrolled or at-risk students to help re-engage them in learning.
  • The newly introduced Equity Index will be used to weight resources to those schools with greater proportions of students facing socio-economic challenges to educational achievement.
  • Schools will decide which students are offered the service, drawing on their knowledge of their own learners, and those who need the support the most.

Now let me turn to the critical work of ensuring we have enough teachers.

The Government already funds the Ministry of Education to deliver a range of successful teacher supply initiatives to attract and retain overseas and domestic teachers for early childhood education through to secondary schooling.

In Budget 2019 we invested in new measures to attract, grow and retain teachers through initiatives including offering new pathways for teachers to train, as well as scholarships, study awards, grants and sabbaticals.

From this budget, fees were paid for 573 qualified teachers to undertake the Teacher Education Refresh in the past year; 465 scholarships were available in 2021 to attract high quality graduates into teaching and 220 scholarships were specifically targeted at growing our Māori medium and te reo teaching workforce.

As we all know - it is a tight labour market for teachers and now borders have opened again some will head overseas. That’s why I am announcing additional $24 million funding to boost existing teacher supply initiatives.

This funding will deliver almost 1,000 additional teachers – a combination of overseas and domestic trained teachers.

The teacher supply funding package will help schools, kura and early childhood education centres kick-start their recruitment for 2023 and beyond.

Overseas teachers have always played an important role in our education system

Pre-pandemic, in 2019, around 900 overseas trained primary and secondary school teachers were approved for a visa

Schools and early childhood education centres successfully recruited almost 300 overseas teachers through the Border Exception Programme while the border was closed. 

Now that the border is open the Government is committing additional funding to ensure Aotearoa New Zealand remains a destination of choice for overseas teachers and offers incentives that allow our schools, kura and early learning services to compete with other countries that are also trying to attract overseas teachers.

Recruiting overseas teachers is the quickest way to increase the supply of experienced teachers in New Zealand.

Several factors impact the speed by which an overseas teacher may arrive in NZ after a job offer, but it can be as quick as a month or two if they already have their qualifications assessed and have teacher registration.

We know that overseas teacher recruitment is challenging – it takes time, effort and is costly.

To support overseas teacher supply, new funding will go towards:

  • Extending availability and increasing funding amount for the Overseas Relocation Grant (ORG) - paid to overseas trained and returning New Zealand teachers to compensate them for relocation costs.
    • This will now extended to all teachers in school, kura and eligible early learning services
    • We’re increasing the overseas location grant from $5,000 to $10,000
    • And this will be available to 1360 teachers (an increase from 600 places previously)
    • This package comes to a total of $8.7m, of which $3.4m is for early childhood education
  • We’re also extending availability and increasing funding amount for the Overseas Finders Fee (OFF) - paid to schools and centres to help with overseas teacher recruitment costs.
    • This will now be extended to all schools and kura, plus one overseas finds fee will be available per early learning service
    • There will be1360 places available, up from 600, to align with overseas relocation grant.
    • This part of the package comes to $2.6m total, of which $1.17m is for early childhood education.
  • We’re also going to fund additional roles in the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), Teaching Council (TC) and Education Payroll Limited (EPL) - to reduce processing times for overseas teachers’ assessments and funding NZQA to waive the cost of International Qualification Assessment for up to 1,200 overseas teachers to a combined total of $1.4 million.
  • To boost the domestic teacher supply pipeline, funding will go towards expanding successful initiatives that -
    • support career changers to become teachers – including increasing the number of Te Huawhiti | Career Changer Scholarships
      • With an additional 100 places (up from 85 to 185)
      • At a cost of $7.7m total over three years
    • We’re also funding 100 places in school-embedded Initial Teacher Education schemes for trainee teachers, where they train on-site and study remotely
    •  Including expanding up to two successful pilot initiatives in the Auckland area
    • At a cost of $2 million
  • Expanding the Beginning Teacher Vacancy Scheme (BTVS) that connects beginning and returning teachers to teaching positions in schools with high need and incentivises them to stay in the role
    • The Government will provide funding for schools of $20,000 to support beginning teacher induction
    • And we’ll fund beginning teacher up to $27,500 over five years.
    • And we’re also going to increase places by 64 places, from 66 to 130.
    • This will cost $1.2m total.

The Ministry will continue to work with the sector to understand what more can be done to attract and retain teachers.

Additional initiatives already underway and planned include:

  • The Ministry of Education has contracted Ako Mātātupu almost $30m to fund 375 teachers in priority areas over the next five years through Teach First NZ, an employment-based initial teacher education programme that provides an alternate pathway into teaching by allowing trainee teachers to earn while they learn, build confidence with more in-classroom experience, and be supported by a strong mentoring programme.
  • Next month the Ministry will launch a ‘Become a Teacher’ recruitment campaign, to promote teaching as a career and encourage graduates and school leavers into initial teacher education.
  • At the same time the Ministry will run a campaign to promote the overseas relocation grant to target overseas markets, alongside selling why teachers should relocate to Aotearoa New Zealand

These are great announcements – demonstrating our Governments commitment to ensuring you and other tamariki receive a world class education.

As I always say, education gives people choices, and I want you to have all the choices possible.

Thank you for welcoming me here today to your wonderful kura.