MAY 20, 2004
School Support Staff Conference
More than 200 school support staff are gathering in Christchurch tomorrow for a three day conference organised by their union, NZEI Te Riu Roa
Support staff work in primary and secondary schools as teacher aides, secretaries, executive officers, librarians, science and IT technicians, therapists, sports co-ordinators, kaiarahi i te reo, who are fluent Maori speakers, and in a number of other non teaching roles.
NZEI Te Riu Roa has more than 9000 support staff members. That’s a fifth of the union’s membership, which also includes primary and early childhood teachers, special education staff and staff in the schools’ advisory service.
“Support staff are in many ways the unsung heroes of our schools. Anyone who has any involvement in education knows how essential their work is in providing a quality education for New Zealand’s children,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa, National President, Colin Tarr.
“The importance of the work they do is often overlooked and that is reflected in their rates of pay, a lack of job security and a lack of career paths.”
“This is due primarily to the fact that their salaries come from operational grants, which is money provided by the Government to cover the costs of running a school.”
“That means support staff are paid from the same money used to buy equipment, maintain classrooms and pay the school power bill. Most schools struggle to spread their ops grant across all their costs putting constant pressure on boards and principals to find the money to pay their support staff.”
“NZEI has recognised this problem and is working to develop a funding system that would provide schools with money specifically to employ support staff. The support staff attending the conference will be briefed on this work,” says Colin Tarr.
The conference will also involve more than 25 workshops covering industrial, professional, and personal development issues. Workshop topics include: recognising the signs of child abuse; dealing with adolescent behaviour; dealing with stress and excessive workloads; time management, knowing your collective agreement and your industrial rights; and the daily running of a school office.
Speakers include Women’s Affairs Minister, Ruth Dyson, NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr and the union’s National Secretary, Lynne Bruce.
The conference is being held at the Grand Chancellor Hotel in Christchurch from Friday May 21 to Sunday May 24.