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NZEI Te Riu Roa Gives Budget 6 Out Of 10

NZEI Te Riu Roa Gives Budget 6 Out Of 10

New Zealand’s largest education union NZEI Te Riu Roa gives today’s Budget a score of 6 out of 10 in terms of new investment in children’s learning.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Colin Tarr says the Budget contains no surprises. He welcomes help for low-income families with savings and housing, parental support programmes and continued increases in education funding. But describes the level of spending on the primary sector over the next four years as relatively modest.

“We know that improving children’s social and economic status, along with quality teaching, is critical to greater achievement in learning,” says Colin Tarr.

“Last year teachers welcomed the Government’s agreement to fund decent pay rates for teachers and the commitment to professional development negotiated by NZEI.”

Colin Tarr says the Government’s commitment to early childhood education, continues in the $152 million of new funding in this Budget. Research shows investment in quality early childhood services has significant payback for children’s learning in following years.

However it was disappointing that the Government expected early childhood education employers to pay only minimum rates rather than recognising the full skills and experience of teachers.

NZEI particularly welcomes increases in funding for teacher aides for special needs students.

The union also welcomed investment in assessment tools for these students when this initiative was announced several weeks ago.

However, the Budget has failed to address some of the union’s key concerns.

“The $71 million in new funding for school operations over the next four years is obviously needed but it does not automatically give thousands of school support staff greater job security,” says Colin Tarr.

School support staff who work as teacher aides, librarians, science technicians and many other non teaching roles are funded by each school’s operations grant. Many of these staff are on fixed term agreements and do not get paid in school holidays. Operations grants also fund school equipment and running costs. When schools face deficits, support staff often face having their jobs or hours cut.

“Without a new system of funding to pay decent wages and provide job security to support staff, the plight of these workers, some on just $11.49 an hour, will continue.”

Colin Tarr says that while NZEI welcomes the relaxation in student allowance eligibility rules, this move fails to address the fundamental problem of sky-rocketing tertiary fees and the lack of living allowance for most students.

“New teachers will continue to face enormous stress, and look to emigrate to pay off their debt. This will impact on the entire education system over time,” say Colin Tarr. He says NZEI did not support the Government’s proposed tertiary education savings scheme. A tertiary savings scheme will not help students from low income families who simply cannot afford to save.

Colin Tarr concludes: “At best the Budget for Vote Education is a “steady as she goes” approach to investing in the long term future of New Zealand,” Mr Tarr concluded.

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