35,000 Nzers Say Bulk Funding Support Staff Doesn't Work
A 35,000 signature petition highlighting the major problems caused by the bulk funding of school support staff salaries is being presented to Associate Education Minister, Parekura Horomia, at Parliament today. (June 15)
Support staff work as teacher aides, special education assistants, office managers, executive officers, librarians, science and IT technicians, therapists, kaiarahi i te reo (fluent Maori speakers) sports co-ordinators and in 80 other roles, in the country's 2600 primary and secondary schools. Around 10,000 belong to NZEI Te Riu Roa.
"In just 10 weeks school support staff gathered 35,000 signatures on this petition to highlight the fact that they are one of the lowest paid and most vulnerable workforces in the country," says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr.
"Their pay rates start at just $11.49 an hour and many live with the on-going concern that their job, or their hours, will be cut."
"This is despite the fact they are essential to the smooth running of schools and for ensuring children, particularly those with special needs, get a quality education," say Colin Tarr.
Support staff are low paid and lack job security because their salaries are bulk funded from each school's operations grant, the same pool of money that schools use to buy all their equipment and pay their running costs. Schools find it very difficult to spread the grant across all the costs they need to bear and pay their support staff.
"This means principals and board members are forced to choose between paying for support staff or cutting back on teaching resources. And students suffer when cuts to support staff jobs or hours result in cuts to their education programmes."
"This is why the 35,000 signature petition being presented to Mr Horomia today calls for a Ministerial Working Party to be established to develop a fairer and more effective system for funding school support staff."
"The petition shows that 35,000 New Zealanders believe the government needs to acknowledge that bulk funding school support staff doesn't work and that it must establish a Ministerial Working Party to develop a fairer and more effective funding system," says Colin Tarr.