New Zealand Primary Teachers

Since 2019, the New Zealand Primary Teacher Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey has reached over 5,000 primary school teachers. In partnership with the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa, the survey complements the New Zealand primary principal survey and provides longitudinal evidence on the health and wellbeing of the teaching profession.

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Research Findings

The survey results show that primary school teachers in New Zealand manage heavy workloads find the sheer quantity of work and lack of time to focus on teaching and learning major sources of stress. As a professional group, primary school teachers in New Zealand experience lower levels of health and wellbeing than primary school leaders. Compared to school leaders, a greater proportion of school leaders suffer from burnout, depressive symptoms, stress and sleeping troubles.

Key Issues for New Zealand Primary School Teachers

Fifty-one percent of teachers reported working upwards of 51 hours per week during term time
13% worked upwards of 61 hours per week.

During school holidays, 89% work upwards of 10 hours per week, and 53% worked more than 25 hours a week

The greatest source of stress for teachers is the sheer quantity of work, closely followed by a lack of time to focus on teaching and learning.

Burnout, Sleeping Troubles and Stress

Over a quarter of primary school teachers have faced physical violence in the last 12 months of their work

Research Impact

This research has highlighted the need to improve teachers working lives through the provision of:

  • Support for early career teachers
  • Professional support
  • Professional development and support for building and maintaining effective professional relationships
  • Interventions to reduce occupational violence and aggression in schools

Evidence from the New Zealand teacher Survey has been used to guide education policy in New Zealand. Aggregated results from the research have been used to brief professional associations, the Ministry of Education, employer bodies such as the New Zealand School Trustees Association, and other teachers’ groups.