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Improving conditions will improve staffing

Improving conditions will improve staffing

The Education Ministry’s annual staffing survey results illustrate the need to continue improving conditions in the secondary sector so more people enter secondary teaching, and those already teaching stay in the profession, PPTA president Phil Smith said today.

Mr Smith said though the survey painted a picture of a sector suffering ongoing staffing shortages, there was anecdotal evidence that last year’s secondary settlement – with higher rates of pay for most teachers and more non-contact hours – was keeping more people teaching and attracting more new entrants.

“Anecdotally the settlement has the potential to ease the staffing problems. As the survey indicates, there are 217 more secondary trainee teachers enrolled in training colleges this year compared to last, with 1510 new enrolments in total. Colleges have also reported their highest level of applicants for some time.

“There also seems to be a good return rate of teachers from overseas – maybe due to a combination of the settlement, relocation grants and the world political situation.”

Mr Smith welcomed the opportunity to discuss staffing initiatives with the Ministry and the Minister. However, in the immediate future it was important that the Staffing Review Group steps planned for 2004 were implemented to show the sector that the government was committed to reducing teachers’ workload and improving their conditions.

“Last year we understood that two (one teacher per school) or maybe three staffing steps would be implemented next year in order to have all the Staffing Review Group 10 staffing steps in place by 2006.

“Any moves to backtrack on additional staffing steps will make it difficult for schools and boards to provide the four hours’ non-contact time specified in the collective agreement.

“I have already heard from the schools that have moved to four non-contact hours that the workload pressures for teachers have been significantly eased, resulting in less stress and higher quality teaching.

“The extra staffing steps are crucial if the sector is to continue in the direction of reducing workload pressure for teachers so a healthier perception of secondary education can become established, ” Mr Smith said.

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