June 15, 2004
Schools Celebrate Their Support Staff
Schools throughout the country will tomorrow celebrate the vital role their support staff play in educating the country’s children.
Tomorrow is Support Staff Day, an annual event organised by NZEI Te Riu Roa, which has more than 9000 support staff members. They work as teacher aides, secretaries, executive officers, science and IT technicians, therapists, librarians, sports co-ordinators, kaiarahi i te reo, who are fluent Maori speakers, and in many other non teaching roles in primary, intermediate, area and secondary schools.
They are a fifth of the membership of NZEI Te Riu Roa, the country’s largest education union, which also represents teachers and principals in primary, intermediate and area schools, early childhood teachers, special education staff in early childhood centres, primary and secondary schools and the staff in the schools’ advisory service.
“The posters for Support Staff Day celebrations are spot on. They describe support staff as the key to a successful school and that’s absolutely true,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa, National President, Colin Tarr.
“The work support staff do, alongside teaching staff, is vital in providing a quality education for New Zealand’s children.”
“Unfortunately the rates of pay and working conditions for support staff often don’t reflect the importance of the work they do.”
“This is due to the fact they are paid from the operational grants provided by the Government to run schools, which are never enough. This means support staff pay has to compete for a slice of the ops grant which has to be stretched to meet all the costs of equipping and maintaining a school.”
“NZEI has recognised this problem and is carrying out research to develop a funding system that would provide schools with money specifically to employ support staff.”
“The union’s aim is to negotiate a new funding system with the government and incorporate this in the support staff collective agreement.”
NZEI Te Riu Roa began representing support staff 12 years ago and tomorrow will be the eleventh Support Staff Day. Schools throughout the country will be holding events while many of the union’s branches and district councils are holding breakfasts, lunches or dinners with guest speakers to celebrate the vital role support staff play in educating New Zealand’s children.