24 Aug 2009

$20,000 sweetener to keep teachers 'worth considering'

8:43 am on 24 August 2009

The principal of one of New Zealand's more isolated high schools says a new idea to offer teachers a lump sum that could be used as a house deposit could have some merit.

The scheme, suggested by the Post Primary Teachers' Association, proposes that teachers be given a $20,000 incentive to help attract more people into the profession and retain them longer.

Teachers would receive the lump sum after four years of work, on condition they made a commitment to work in the profession for a minimum of four more years.

The scheme differs to the one announced earlier this year by the Government, which gives new teachers a cash payment of $10,000 after three years.

Westland High School principal Tony Guilliland says any incentive to attract teachers to hard-to-staff areas, especially if staff remain in the community for some time, is worth considering.

He says the school, in Hokitika, has houses if offers staff at a subsidised rent, and based on the popularity of those he thinks a home deposit scheme could be an attractive incentive for some teachers.

Central Southland College acting principal Kathryn Summers says for schools like hers being able to offer new staff accommodation is crucial, but she would want any incentive scheme to be broadly applied to all teachers, rather than to just new teachers.

PPTA president Kate Gainsford says many teachers have identified the cost of housing as a major disincentive for staying in the profession, and such a lump sum could be used towards a house deposit.

Union members will vote on the idea at their annual conference next month.