One in three secondary school management positions failed to attract a suitable applicant, according to a school union survey released in May.
Box-ticking tasks are an unwanted distraction for St Patrick’s College science head of department Doug Walker.
“We’re getting caught up in the day-to-day drudgery of form filling and compliance.”
Walker said he took the job wanting to get the best from students and help lead teachers in his department.
“You’re thinking what’s best for the students, but also rigorously going through the boxes to be ticked.”
Some management roles offered a few thousand dollars after tax for the extra responsibility.
“There’s not many people who would say they do it for the money.”
Instead, he said most teachers do it to make a difference and for the challenge.
An annual survey of principals by the Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) found the average number of applicants for management jobs almost halved since 2015, from 8.2 to 4.7 per job.
This was backed up by a survey of schools by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research released the same time.
Half of principals reported middle management positions were difficult to fill, largely because of the workload.
Those surveyed said demanding tasks, excessive paperwork and a lack of financial incentive put teachers off management positions.
The concerns come on top of reports of secondary staffing shortages hitting Auckland schools due to rising housing costs.
Principals said they were struggling to fill teaching positions and some were buying houses for staff as a job incentive.
Secondary school teachers’ union, PPTA, is working with the Ministry of Education to address the staffing issues.
PPTA president Angela Roberts said pressure was building on principals to find middle managers.
Decision makers in Wellington often make paperwork and compliance demands without considering the effect on teachers’ time, she said.
“It would be great if the half-dozen agencies who come up with good ideas in Wellington would consider what it takes to enact the idea.”
Middle leaders were also frustrated the job had becoming more about paperwork than leading teachers and inspiring students, she said.
“It’s highly bureaucratic. Teachers would rather stay in the classroom and work with the students.”
Ministry of Education student achievement deputy secretary Lisa Rodgers said they are concerned by principals’ reports of the demanding workload for middle management.
A working group was set up with teachers, principals, PPTA and the NZ Qualifications Authority to address these concerns.
It is due to to report back in December.
Although there were workload concerns, the number of middle management vacancies are declining, she said.