11 February 2005
Stop bleating over teacher non-contacts
Claims by the Secondary Principals Association that schools have not been funded to provide teacher non-contact time are ill-informed and reflect a lack of understanding on the part of a few principals, says PPTA president Debbie Te Whaiti.
“We are frustrated that some principals are saying they haven’t been resourced for providing the non-contact time. That’s simply untrue,” she said.
“In 2000, PPTA sought and won funding for the 1850 extra secondary teachers that principals said they needed in order to give teachers five non-contact hours. That’s roughly five teachers per school on average.
“By the start of this year, four-fifths of that staffing – four teachers per school – had already been delivered, and next year schools will receive the remaining staffing they need to fund the fifth hour of non-contact time.”
Te Whaiti said principals were putting the blame at the door of non-contact time for problems in other areas.
“We agree with principals that the general staffing entitlement doesn’t put enough staffing into schools to cater for the type of individualised learning schools are increasingly required to provide under the NCEA and for the extra workload demands on all school staff since Tomorrow’s Schools.
“But we need to be careful that complaints about implementing the non-contact time are not simply an excuse for not wanting to do things differently.
“Increasing class size, reducing options and shortening the school day are not the only options schools can take to provide the non-contact time.
“We know of schools that have started from scratch and redesigned – rather than just tweaked - their timetables to provide five hours non-contact time a year ahead of schedule without dropping classes or increasing class size. They have shown great innovation and others can learn from the work they have done.”
Te Whaiti said the non-contacts were an acknowledgement of the importance to quality education of duties other than classroom teaching that teachers are required to undertake while schools are open for instruction.
“Having non-contact time has been a positive and necessary change for secondary teachers and brings us more in line with OECD averages.
“For the first time last year, teacher loss rates were down in part due to non-contacts. We expect that trend to continue which means more experienced teachers staying in teaching.”
Non-contact fact sheet
When the Secondary Teachers Collective Agreement (STCA) was settled in 2002 the normal grace and favour allocation of non-contacts for classroom teachers was 3 hours per week.
The settlement established the status quo as the guaranteed minimum for 2002/3. It set 2004 as the year in which the non-contact time had to increase to 4 hours per week for full time teachers.
In 2005 schools had to try to provide the second additional hour to bring teachers to a total of 5 per week, but it is only an absolute requirement from 2006.
The increase in the number of non-contact hours from the normal 3 hours they had in 2002 is 2 hours by next year - from 3 to 5 hours.
To support these changes Staffing Review Group (SRG) staffing has been added to schools since 2002.
The sequence of staffing increases has been:
2002 - 12.5 hours per school 2003 - 25 hours per school 2004 - 25 hours per school 2005 - 37.5 hours per school Total 2002-2005 - 100 hours per week per school (four full-time teachers)
Some schools got more because they had year 7 and 8 classes or Maori immersion classes. Schools less than 201 got a proportion of this additional time.
Ministry figures suggest 1270 extra teacher equivalents added to secondary (about 1400 if secondary teachers in area schools are included) - or 31,750 extra weekly teaching hours.
Currently there are fewer than 15,000 full time secondary teachers - (not all of whom needed increases to their non-contact time because they exceed the minimum (e.g. principals, deputy principals, senior HODs, teachers in schools already giving more than three hours non-contact in 2002 etc). However, if we assume that there are 15,000 full timers and that they all required time to move from 3 to 4 hours then they would require 15,000 hours, and 30,000 to move from 3 to 5.
On the basis of 15,000 teachers there have been 2 hour and 6 minutes per full time teacher added to resource the required change from 3 to 4 hours.
Next year (based on the conservative MoE 2004 projected school rolls for 2005) secondary schools will generate a further 5340 hours. This will be a total of 37,090 hours added to resource the change from 3 to 5 hours for full time teachers. This is nearly 2 and a half hours per full-time teacher - not all of whom will require additional time.