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Primary Teachers Offered Classroom Release Time

Primary Teachers Offered Classroom Release Time

Primary teachers are to vote whether to accept a proposed collective employment agreement negotiated by their union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, which for the first time would provide them with classroom release time. Negotiations with the Ministry of Education began on June 30 and after 25 days of talks the NZEI negotiating team has reached settlement on a proposed collective agreement.

"The proposed collective is worth $420 million and includes a number of significant advances in the working conditions for 25,000 teachers working in primary and intermediate schools," says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr.

"For example, to help address their workload it's proposed that the government provide hundreds of extra teachers to deliver guaranteed classroom release time for primary teachers for the first time."

"This would provide time during the school day that teachers are released from being in the classroom so they can do the lesson planning, student assessment, administrative work and professional development that they currently have to do after school or during the weekend."

"Primary sector teachers made it clear throughout these negotiations that issues involving their workload, their teaching qualifications, the career paths for teachers and the need to support beginning teachers, had to be addressed."

"The proposed collective delivers major advances in all these areas," says Colin Tarr.

Key aspects of the proposed collective are: * The government to spend around $94 million to provide up to 800 extra teachers to deliver all full time primary teachers a guaranteed 10 hours of classroom release time a term, starting in Term Four next year. * Removal of the prejudice against primary teachers' qualifications that blocked most of them from progressing to the top step of the pay scale they share with secondary teachers. It's proposed primary teachers who have a relevant one year qualification at Level Seven of the Qualifications Authority framework, in addition to a Bachelor of Teaching or Advanced Diploma of Teaching, will have access to the top pay step. * An 8.5% across the board pay increase over the three year term of the proposed collective. A one-off $500 payment for teachers covered by the collective from the date settlement for committing to an extensive programme on workload, career paths and other issues included in the proposed collective. * A 10% increase in the value of a unit from $3000 to $3300 from July this year. A further 3% increase in July next year to $3400 and a further 3% to $3500 by July, 2006. Units are annual payments to teachers for carrying out extra responsibilities. * The tutor teacher allowance to increase from $500 to $1500 next year and then to $2000 at the start of 2006. Assistant and Deputy Principals to be eligible for the allowance for the first time. Tutor teachers provide professional development support for beginning teachers. * A 22% increase in the Normal School Allowance from $1636 to $2000. Normal schools provide work experience for student teachers. * Schools will be provided with staffing to assist beginning teachers in their second year to observe other teachers in their class or to carry out lesson planning or other professional development. * A long term work programme to enable NZEI and the Ministry of Education to work on strategies for development of the primary workforce. The increases to pay, allowances, units and recognition for teaching qualifications in the proposed collective agreement would see the salary for a beginning teacher with a Bachelor of Teaching degree increase by 16% from $36,256 to $42,325 by July 2006.

The salary for a tutor teacher with a Diploma of Teaching would rise by 12% from $44,254 to $50,123. And the salary for an Assistant Principal with an Advanced Diploma of Teaching, a Diploma in Information Technology and two units would rise by 14% from $59,638 to $68,323.

"This proposed collective would deliver significant advances in the working conditions for primary sector teachers, in particular in the areas of workload, qualifications, career paths for teachers and support for beginning teachers," says Colin Tarr.

"Teachers made it clear that these areas had to be addressed in the negotiations. We have achieved that and will be recommending that they vote to accept the proposed collective agreement."

"NZEI acknowledges the constructive approach taken by the Ministry of Education to addressing the teachers' major claims. The proposed collective includes a programme that will continue work on the issues of workload, qualifications, career paths and professional development during the term of the agreement," says Colin Tarr.

NZEI is arranging meetings throughout the country to brief primary teachers on the details of the proposed collective. These will be held at the beginning of Term Four and then the teachers will vote in a postal ballot. The result of the ballot is expected in early November.

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