No-one is more concerned than I am about ensuring sufficient teachers are available to provide a quality education for all New Zealanders, Education Minister Wyatt Creech said today.
I have heard claims in the media that convey the impression that this weeks secondary teachers strike is being held to draw attention to concerns about teacher supply. That is absolutely unnecessary. I am well aware of the situation. I have made the issue of teacher supply a top priority for Government action and I have said so publicly many times, Mr Creech said.
We are addressing this issue very seriously. We have made a commitment to have a quality teacher in front of every classroom. We are accountable to the electorate for the outcome, he said.
(more) The Government has a programme in place to continually update ourselves on the teacher supply situation. This includes looking at the number of teachers college places and encouraging people to return to teaching, he said.
We have already committed to increasing the number of secondary teacher training places, which have already increased by 40% since 1990, he said.
The reality is that this strike has no real justification. Both pay and other issues of concern are being addressed. The talks have not broken down in the normal sense of the expression. A new, improved contract offer was ready to go on the table today had the strikes not occurred, Mr Creech said.
Any progress in resolving the dispute is delayed while the strikes go on, he said.