December 29, 2004
New Support Staff Funding System Tops NZEI New Year Wish List
The country’s largest education union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, has issued a list of education issues it wants addressed in 2005.
NZEI Te Riu Roa has more than 43,000 members spanning four education sectors. It represents early childhood and primary teachers, support staff in early childhood, primary and secondary schools, special education staff in early childhood, primary and secondary schools and school advisers who are based in colleges of education and universities.
“Changing the funding system for school support staff is the issue at the top of NZEI’s list of things the union wants addressed in 2005,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President, National President, Colin Tarr.
“Currently support staff salaries are paid from a schools’ operations grant, which is the same fund school boards and principals use to buy books, pay the power bill and paint classrooms.”
“Because there are so many demands on the operations grant, schools often run short of money to pay their support staff, who are then told that the school can’t afford to keep employing them, or that their hours of work have to be cut.”
“It also means that many support staff are not being paid the salaries they are legally entitled to receive under their collective agreement. NZEI represents more than 9500 support staff and estimates they are being underpaid by at least $10 million.”
“NZEI is proposing a new system of funding school support staff.”
“It would involve the government provide guaranteed funding for core work done by support staff, with further money provided within the operations grant, enabling a school to employ any extra support staff they might need.”
“The current system has remained unchanged for 15 years and clearly needs a major overhaul.”
“A survey of schools has shown that an overwhelming majority of them believe the current method of paying support staff is not working and needs to be changed.”
“The NZEI is calling on the government to acknowledge this and join the union and other parties involved in this issue in working together to build a better system,” says Colin Tarr.
SECOND PAGE TO COME 2 Other issues NZEI Te Riu Roa wants addressed in 2005 are: Ensuring there are enough qualified and registered Maori speaking teachers to meet the growing demand for students to be taught in Maori.
There are almost 30,000 primary and secondary students being taught in Maori and the number is growing every year. That’s because there is mounting evidence that young Maori who are confident in their language and their culture achieve better at school and are better prepared to achieve in life.
“The problem is the demand for students to be taught in Maori, is outstripping the supply of qualified and registered teachers, who are fluent in te reo Maori,” says Colin Tarr.
“The government must acknowledge the situation is reaching a crisis point and that we need to develop a co-ordinated response to the problem, instead of the current piecemeal approach.”
Ensuring that school advisers based in colleges of education and universities have the support they need to continue their vital work in providing professional development for teachers in schools. School advisers were restructured in the 1990s and are going through further upheaval now as colleges of education are merged with universities. At the same time the list of professional development programmes they are being required to provide teachers, continues to grow. “If the government is going to carry on increasing school advisers workload, they need to ensure that they have the resources, the staffing and the working arrangements that will enable them to do this work,” says Colin Tarr. Ensuring schools are not being continually hit with ad hoc education policies.
“For too long schools have been buffeted by ad hoc policy changes and a continual tinkering and tweaking of the education system, based on the whims of politicians,” says Colin Tarr.
“NZEI wants to see the government’s schooling strategy provide a more coherent, strategic, no surprises approach, so that school staff know what the government’s goals are for the next five years,” says Colin Tarr.
“This will enable them to get on with the job of providing quality education for the country’s children.”
Ensuring that the Ministry of Education is ready to progress the work programme that has arisen from the teachers’ collective agreement negotiated this year.
“Primary sector teachers workload, career paths, qualifications and professional development were all addressed in their collective agreement negotiations this year. But there is more work to do on these issues and NZEI is determined that real progress is made in 2005 on the programme that was agreed with the Ministry,” says Colin Tarr