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National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says teacher vacancy figures being reported do not reflect an accurate picture of the retention and recruitment issues faced by schools and that the Government must do more to address the shortages.

“The fact that some Ministry reports indicate that one in six schools have several vacancies in areas like Auckland is hugely problematic and shows that the Government must address this issue as a matter of urgency.

“We also know that the figures the Ministry are quoting are only estimates and that a better picture will emerge over the coming weeks as principals finalise rolls and curriculum areas.

“Retention and recruitment issues are problematic for teachers, students and their families who are facing larger class sizes and additional stress as a result.

“National has previously proposed extending voluntary bonding to areas like all of Auckland. Schools would have had fewer vacancies if this policy had been implemented. The Government should also be providing additional investment in programmes like Teach NZ which help incentivise people into the profession.

“This is a big year for education with a number of challenges ahead including potential strikes at both primary and secondary levels. One of the core issues for secondary teachers in areas like Auckland is the rising cost of living which has been raised in their claim.

“The Ministry know that the long term shortages projected can’t be resolved without policy changes. Despite this they are yet to produce the long term workforce development strategy which they have been working on for close to a year and a half.

“National also supports reducing class sizes. It’s clear from recent surveys that a number of teachers are under stress, and smaller class sizes would help reduce this and support greater retention of teachers.

“As children are heading back to school for another year, parents are starting to ask questions about Labour’s broken promises such as working to scrap school donations.”

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