Emergency staffing scheme

Find information about eligibility, how to apply, and more.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Administrators

When a school cannot recruit a principal, they may be eligible to access personnel through the Emergency Staffing scheme. 

About the scheme

The pool of 30 emergency teachers is available to state and state-integrated schools.

The Emergency Staffing Scheme (ESS) is funded by the Ministry of Education and administered by the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA).

The conditions of the scheme

The placement is usually for a principal vacancy. Conditions are:

  • an acting appointment from within the school is impossible or impracticable 
  • the board has made every effort to find a relief principal to cover the vacancy, including using local and regional resources
  • support is required for 10 school weeks or fewer 
  • the emergency has arisen from a situation outside of the board's control.

Placements beyond 10 weeks

Placements beyond 10 school weeks or extensions to existing placements beyond 10 school weeks must have prior approval from the Ministry and NZSTA. They will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. If an extension is approved, accommodation costs will be paid over the term break if required, but the daily meals and incidentals allowance will not be paid during the break.

How to access the scheme

Contact the NZSTA's head office in Wellington for the name of the ESS national coordinator.

New Zealand School Trustees Association
Level 8
142 Lambton Quay

PO Box 5123

Phone: 0800 782 435

Email: eradvice@nzsta.org.nz

The emergency principal’s retainer

The NZSTA pays Emergency Staffing Scheme pool members a retainer, $6,000 per annum.

This retainer is paid through NZSTA to the pool member in 4 equal instalments by direct credit into the ESS pool member’s nominated bank account.

Paying the ESS principal's salary

When a board's application for ESS assistance has been approved, the board pays the principal's salary as follows:

If the position to be covered by the ESS principal

then the ESS pool principal's salary is ...

is currently vacant paid from teachers' salaries. The board becomes the ESS Principal's employer and the provisions of the relevant collective agreement apply.

ESS principals are paid at the rate applicable to their qualifications and experience.

covers a teacher on long-term leave with pay (and sick leave)

met by the board from its operational funding.
You can apply for additional relief teacher funding in the usual way if your situation meets the conditions outlined in the additional relief teacher funding scheme.

Additional relief teacher funding

Expenses you can claim

The expenses that an ESS principal is entitled to have paid or reimbursed, which you can then have reimbursed by the Ministry, are as follows:



Principal living at normal place of residence and travelling between 20 to 100 kilometres each way to placement.
  • Reimbursement of return travel (1 trip per day) between their normal place of residence and the school. (note that daily travel should not be more than 100km each way)
  • Mileage is reimbursed at the current IRD rate ($0.95 per km).
  • Additional costs may be considered with prior approval by the Ministry.
Principal living away from their normal place of residence (placement must be at least 50 kilometres away)
  • Travel from normal place of residence to accommodation at start of placement and trip home at end of placement. Mileage will be paid at the current IRD rate ($0.95 per km).

  • If the school is more than 20km from accommodation (each way), one return trip from accommodation to school per day at the current IRD mileage rate ($0.95 per km).

  • Actual and reasonable accommodation expenses including rental and power. Receipts will be required.

  • Daily meals and incidentals allowance of $22 including GST per day. No receipts are required. The daily allowance will not be paid for trips home during term time.

  • Trips home during term time: Return travel between the school and their normal place of residence every four weeks per placement or a maximum of two return trips per 10 week placement, including trips home for public holidays Mileage will be paid at the current IRD rate ($0.95 per km). Accommodation costs will continue to be paid if required. The daily meals and incidentals allowance of $22 per day will not be paid for trips home during term time.

  • Additional costs, such as flights and rental cars, may be considered with prior approval by the Ministry.

Prior Approvals

Any additional costs or extensions to ESS placements need prior approval by the Ministry and must be requested via the NZSTA ESS national coordinator.

How the board pays expenses and claims reimbursement from the Ministry

The board employing the ESS principal is responsible for paying travel expenses and the daily meals and incidentals allowance. The Ministry will then reimburse these expenses to the employing board. To be reimbursed for these expenses, the school board will need to provide the Ministry with documentation or evidence that these costs were either paid by the ESS principal and then reimbursed by the School Board to the principal, or paid directly by the Board on the principal’s behalf (for example, accommodation costs).

Evidence can be provided by invoices and receipts.

We are only able to reimburse costs that have been directly paid out of board funds.

How to claim reimbursement for qualifying ESS expenses in 3 steps:

  1. The ESS pool teacher submits their claim to the board. The claim consists of:

    • receipts for travel and accommodation expenses 
    • the emergency staffing scheme claim form.
  2. The board initially pays the qualifying expenses from its operational funding.
  3. The board seeks reimbursement from the Resourcing Division of the Ministry for the actual costs paid. We will only reimburse expenses listed in the table above.

Emergency staffing scheme claim form [DOCX, 66 KB]

Final date for claims: 31 March

The final date for processing claims for any school year will be 31 March of the following year.

Claims received at the Resourcing Division after this date will not be actioned, nor will claims received prior to the cut-off date where appropriate and full documentation didn't accompany the claim.

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