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Message to the Incoming Government

Media Release: September 26, 2005 From NZEI Te Riu Roa
For immediate use Ms05/43

NZEI Te Riu Roa Message to the Incoming Government

New Zealand’s largest education union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, says its vital that any incoming Government promotes sound and effective education and employment relations policies.

This was the message delivered by NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Colin Tarr, at the start of the union’s Annual Meeting in Wellington today. (Sunday September 25.)

Speaking to the 400 NZEI members at the conference Colin Tarr said: “Our key message to the incoming Government, regardless of how its put together, is that consolidation and promotion of sound, effective education and employment relations policies are necessary and essential.”

“Our members, school boards and management committees for early childhood education centres, need to have time to bed in effective policies so that student learning outcomes are enhanced and sustained over time.”

“What we need is a steady as she goes approach. The new Government needs to build on the solid foundation we’ve laid down, not to start dismantling the public education system by introducing ideologically driven policies that will create division and disrupt student learning.”

In his speech Colin Tarr noted that NZEI members were active during the election campaign and throughout the year and this work had produced results.

- In 10 weeks, starting at the end of March, school support staff got 35,000 New Zealanders to sign a petition calling for a fairer and more effective funding system. In June the Government announced a review of school operation funding, which will include looking at the current bulk funding of support staff salaries.

- In April NZEI and the NZUSA released a report card showing that new teachers graduated owing an average of $23,000 and now the Labour Party has promised to scrap interest on student loans if it can form a Government.

- And after prolonged lobbying by NZEI, advocating smaller class sizes, there is now a commitment from Labour to reduce the class size for five year olds starting school.

Colin Tarr said New Zealand needs a government that supports:

- Effective local schools for all, not elitist schools for a few.

- Genuinely free education: more funding, not bulk funding.

- Free access to early childhood education.

- More learning, less testing.

- Quality conditions of employment to attract quality people.

Colin Tarr has identified three areas that NZEI will make priorities over the next 12 months

Schools operational funding

“We have a major opportunity in the operational funding review to put in place a new resourcing system that achieves universal buy-in.

A funding system that is sustainable, equitable, transparent and accountable, and
that encourages rather than undermines collaboration in and between schools.

Such a system would help all of us as a national education community to focus on the health and performance of the education system as a whole, not just our own individual schools and education workplaces.”

Quality teaching

“In my view our work this year provides a platform for the education unions, the Ministry of Education, academics and the wider community to put ‘quality teaching’ on centre stage in 2006.

This will require an emphasis on collaboration and collegiality, within professional learning communities, in and across schools, and in the education system generally.

NZEI is committed to contributing to such a process.”

Early childhood education

“In Early Childhood Education we need to ensure the commitment to pay parity and to the concept of ECE as a public service for the public good.

This means taking steps to build a national public ECE system based on public provision. We will need to work with our allies across the sector to realise this goal.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa has 44,700 members. They work as:

- Teachers and principals in primary schools.

- Teachers in early childhood education services.

- Support staff in early childhood education services, primary and secondary schools.

- Special education staff in early childhood education services, primary and secondary schools.

- School advisers

Colin’s speech is at 4pm on Sunday September 25 in the Wellington Town Hall. It’s on the opening day of the NZEI Annual Meeting which runs until Wednesday September 28.


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