Why In-Demand Teachers Are Being Forced Out of Auckland

Publish Date
Tuesday, 25 October 2016, 9:21AM
Photo / NZ Herald - watch the video at nzherald.co.nz

Photo / NZ Herald - watch the video at nzherald.co.nz

A top Auckland school is losing three key teachers as houses in our largest city become an "unrealistic" goal for many in the profession.

Mt Albert Grammar School in central Auckland will say goodbye to three young science teachers at the end of the year.

Headmaster Patrick Drumm and two of the teachers explicitly pointed the finger at house prices, while the third teacher said it was one factor in the decision to leave.

It comes as the Herald yesterday revealed the average Auckland home is earning $7000 a year more than a graduate teacher and about the same as a new recruit police constable.

The average house price growth in Auckland in the year to September was $54,000, while the average annual wage was $51,116.

The situation has become so bad Post-Primary Teachers Association Auckland western ward executive member Melanie Webber said a colleague told her: "I wish I'd studied harder at school and become a house."

Drumm said young teachers wishing to settle down, buy a house and start a family, could not hope to pay a hefty mortgage and raise a family on their salary - even at the top of the teacher pay-scale at $75,949.

The sector was starting to see a trend - young teachers a few years into the profession, who want to settle down, are choosing to leave Auckland. The city had become "out of the question" for them.

"They can see it's unsustainable, and they're taking their skills elsewhere", he said.

Such migration out of Auckland was "shrinking the pool" of quality teachers, he said, especially in high-demand science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

Teacher Steve Sharp, 31, is one of the MAGS teachers leaving at the end of the year.

He and partner Laura Robinson, 26, are moving to Dunedin, where she plans to study and the cost of living is cheaper.

The couple - who have been living in Auckland for two years - would like to buy their first home and settle down. But even with Sharp earning close to the top of the teacher pay-scale, at around $70,000, their dream was "not really realistic, particularly if we go down to one income".

Teachers get paid on the same pay-scale all over New Zealand, so his pay-cheque would go much further in Dunedin than in Auckland, he said.

"At the moment we live in a share flat ... but we want to move into our own place, and realistically that's a bit more challenging if we want to live in Auckland and save for a house at the same time.

"Whereas in Dunedin we could start renting our own place and then even potentially look at buying our own one, so it just makes sense to be somewhere else."

School principals are now scouting teaching colleges to poach in-demand science and maths teachers before they graduate.

With only two physics graduates leaving the University of Otago College of Education at the end of the year, schools are already approaching them for jobs.

Read the full story at nzherald.co.nz