New scheme helps schools recruit

  • Anne Tolley

The National -led government's response to Labour's legacy of teacher shortages was announced today by Education Minister Anne Tolley.

"This teacher bonding scheme represents a new solution to graduate teacher shortages. This scheme will assist in attracting teachers to schools that have had problems finding and keeping staff, and will boost numbers in subjects where there have been shortages,"  Mrs Tolley said.

"National is delivering on its election education promises.  The scheme covers teachers in hard to staff schools such as decile 1 and severely isolated schools, and teachers of subjects where there is a shortage. The subjects are Chemistry, Home Economics, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, Technology and Te Reo Māori.

"New teachers will be eligible for a $3,500 annual payment (before tax) for every year up to five years that they are working in these areas. In the first year, all teachers who have graduated since 2005 will be eligible.  The Ministry of Education estimates that close to 1800 teachers may be eligible this year," Mrs Tolley said.

The scheme is expected to cost $19 million over three years from 2011/12, when the first payments will be made to teachers. 

Voluntary Bonding  Frequently Asked Questions

What is provided by voluntary bonding?

Teachers will be eligible for before-tax payments of $3,500, over and above their salary, for every year up to five years that they are working in the identified schools and subjects.

Payment for the first three years will be paid at the end of the third year of teaching, and annually for the fourth and fifth years.  This means that the first payments will be made at the end of the 2011 school year for those entering the scheme in 2009.

Teachers must stay working in identified schools or subject areas (but can move within them) for three years in order to receive the first payment.

Where will the money to fund it come from?

Funding is being sought through Budget 2009.  In addition, the Loan Support Scheme currently provides incentive payments directed at graduates' student loans for teachers of hard-to-staff subjects.  Because this scheme will be overtaken by the voluntary bonding scheme, the Loan Support Scheme will be closed and its funding of $0.961 million per annum will be directed to voluntary bonding

Who is eligible?

All teachers who have graduated since 2005 will be eligible for entry to the voluntary bonding scheme in 2009 if they are working in either:

Decile 1 schools;
Severely isolated schools; or
Particular subject areas. 

From 2010, graduates will only be eligible to enter the scheme in the first year of their initial provisional registration - their beginning teacher year.

All teachers must choose to enter the identified school or subject within the first year of their initial provisional registration.  This indicates sign-up to the scheme.

To be eligible, teachers must work within the identified schools or subject areas for three years. Eligible teachers will receive a payment after three years' service, then an annual payment for two years, so long as they remain eligible.

Why did you set payments at this level?

Payments have been set at a level to assist graduates to pay off their student loans within five years.  As the average student loan debt varies between professions, different payment levels exist across different professions.

What happens if a teacher doesn't have a student loan?

If teachers do not have a student loan, payments will be made directly to them.

The teachers' payroll identifies whether a teacher has a student loan or not.  When an application for voluntary bonding payments has been approved, payroll will direct the payment to any existing loan balance, or if the teacher does not have a student loan, add the payment to the teacher's salary.

How do teachers apply?

Teachers do not need to apply to enter voluntary bonding.  After completing three years teaching in an identified school or subject, teachers will need to apply for their first voluntary bonding payment.  They will need to complete further applications for payments at the conclusion of their fourth and fifth years of teaching.

How many schools will the voluntary bonding scheme apply to?

More than 380 schools nationwide are either decile 1 or meet the isolation criteria.  In addition, schools offering the identified secondary subjects may have eligible teachers.

For more information refer to