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Secondary specific solutions needed

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Media Release

23 September 2003

Secondary specific solutions needed

Secondary-specific, rather than one size fits all, solutions are needed to further enhance secondary education in New Zealand, PPTA president Phil Smith said today.

In a speech to PPTA’s Annual Conference, Mr Smith said recent calls for a unified teaching service ignored the intellectual and workload demands of senior assessment and the particular challenges of teaching adolescents and would not advance education in New Zealand.

“We are proud to be an independent union that fights its own battles and does not ride on the coat-tails of another. Though our history does show that we certainly have been occasionally militant, this has brought gains for not only secondary education, but for the whole compulsory education sector.”

Mr Smith applauded the progress made to improve secondary teachers’ working conditions through last year’s arbitrated settlement.

“The ADR process and the independent panel’s recommendations were a complete vindication of our stand over pay and conditions – all along we wanted a secondary-specific solution to the problems of recruitment and retention we were facing, and the panel delivered this.”

However, he said the panel’s findings had inevitably come up against a pay system which treated secondary teachers exactly the same as primary teachers, regardless of needs.

“It became clear that the unexpectedly high cost of the panel’s proposals meant that when the unfinished business of the degree equivalent teachers came to be sorted out, the Government wanted to dramatically restrict the flow-on costs to primary teachers.

“We hope the new national diploma which the Minister announces tomorrow will present a real solution to this issue.”

Mr Smith said PPTA looked forward to working with the Government and the Ministry of Education to achieve improvements in classroom teaching and student achievement. However, he said teachers were not miracle workers and it was important the social context in which they operated was taken into account.

“We are not happy when our input is devalued and we are fobbed off with short-sighted, unrealistic solutions to problems that cry out for an effective answer.

“What we ask for, and what we still seek, is meaningful, constructive, problem-solving dialogue with politicians and the appropriate agencies of the state on the many issues that need addressing in our sector. This is not asking for the moon!”

ENDS

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