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School Support Staff Mobilising After Budget 2024 Fails To Deliver

Hundreds of school support staff, essential to supporting children’s learning, are mobilising at paid union meetings from this week to discuss their priorities to take into collective agreement negotiations later this year.

These include better working conditions, improving job security and resourcing to grow their professional expertise.

These meetings take place after a Budget that failed to deliver meaningful funding for schools and kura, with an operations grant increase that is 2.5% while inflation sits at 4%. The operations grant pays for the huge variety of education workers who are collectively known as ‘support staff’. These include teacher aides who directly support children in the classroom, people who manage school offices and administration, librarians, school technicians and much more.

Ally Kemplen, a teacher aide and spokesperson for NZEI Te Riu Roa says that it was hugely frustrating to see the Government ignore the needs of schools and tamariki.

“Teacher aides, for example, provide essential learning support to learners, but don’t have job security. Many of us are on fixed term contracts because of the insecure funding system that funds our pay. Valued professions generally have secure employment, because their employers don’t want to lose them.

“When teachers, principals and whānau say we’re essential to meeting children’s needs in a classroom and helping the school run smoothly, it makes no sense that we don’t have that security.”

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The meetings take place as support staff prepare to renegotiate their collective agreement at the end of the year. Preliminary discussions have highlighted a call for more teacher aides, fair pay, job security and professional learning and development.

Support staff are the first collective group in the primary education sector to negotiate their collective agreement under the new coalition Government.

“We’re coming together at our meetings to make a collective decision on our working conditions and pay. The Government needs to listen when we say support staff are essential.”

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