May 18, 2006
From NZEI Te Riu Roa
For Immediate Use
NZEI Welcomes Govt Investment in Early Childhood and Schools
New Zealand's largest education union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, welcomes the investment the Government is making in enabling children to receive a quality early childhood education and reducing teacher pupil ratios in small primary schools.
"We welcome the $128 million in The Budget to provide 20 hours of free early childhood education for three and four year olds from July next year," says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, Irene Cooper.
"We support this investment in New Zealand's future as we believe education should be as free at three as it is at 13. But it's crucial that children receive a quality early childhood education."
Research shows the way to achieve this is to employ teachers who are qualified and registered and to ensure they are fairly rewarded for the important work they do.
"That's why we're pleased to see that The Budget provides almost $30 million over four years to enable early childhood education services to meet the Government target of having all teachers in the sector qualified and registered by 2012," says Irene Cooper.
"It's also pleasing to see increased funding that will help employers pay decent salaries to their teachers as part of the extension of pay parity throughout the early childhood education sector."
"NZEI also welcomes the funding to reduce the class size in small schools," says Irene Cooper
The Budget provides funding that will enable primary schools, with up to 176 students, reduce their class sizes from next year. Extra teachers will be provided that will allow these schools to have a maximum average class size of 25 students. Currently they have enough teachers to have a maximum average class size of 26.
"We applaud this investment in small schools, many of which are in rural areas," says Irene Cooper.
The classes in small schools have children with a wider range of ages, the principal often has a class to teach, and there are fewer teachers to help with school wide curriculum planning and assessment than larger schools.
"This is a sound investment in the education of children who attend our small schools," says Irene Cooper. "It must be noted that these schools were able to have a maximum class size of 25 in the early 1990s, but this was taken away in reorganisation of school staffing by a National-led government in 1996."
"We're also pleased to see extra teachers being provided to reduce the class size for Year 9 and 10 students in special schools," says Irene Cooper.
"Schools will welcome the $95.6 million increase in their operations funding, over all its components, for the next four years," says Irene Cooper. "But they will still struggle to spread the money over all their operating costs, and pay the salaries of their support staff."
"This is why NZEI continues to call for a Ministerial Taskforce to develop a fairer and more effective system for funding support staff salaries."