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Govt only putting bandaids on the problem - teachers

6:28 pm on 18 May 2018

Teachers are disappointed with the government's Budget, saying it has failed to address key problems facing schools.

Andy McKegg is a teacher at Berhampore School Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

The Budget provided a 1.6 percent increase to schools' operations grants and a $270 million boost for special education.

But that was not enough to satisfy teachers at Wellington's Berhampore School who told RNZ News they expected the government to do more.

Andy McKegg said the Labour Party raised expectations while it was in opposition and now that it was in power it had fallen short.

"Before they came into government they promised they would start fixing these elements of education and health. I don't know anything about health but they're not going to make any changes whatsoever in education, especially because they're just putting bandaids on the problem by throwing money at learning support without actually addressing a system that doesn't work properly."

Michelle McCracken said the government had ignored the problems school teachers had been raising in recent years.

"We've been going to the government quite often with the issues that we're having, not just our own pay but just the way schools are being run and it's just disappointing to see there's not enough being done," she said.

Relief teacher Marlaina Myers said a high workload drove her out of full-time teaching and the budget did nothing to make her want to go back.

"It doesn't change my predicament in terms of workload for teachers, increase in salary to recruit and retain good-quality teachers, because I'm half-way out the door," she said.

The Educational Institute is currently in pay talks for primary teachers.

One of the negotiators, Liam Rutherford, an intermediate school teacher from Palmerston North, said he knew the government had money set aside for the pay settlement but it still should have delivered more in yesterday's budget.

"I think it's pretty flat actually. I guess we were a bit disappointed with where this is going to leave schools. I think at best what this is saying is that schools are in a position to stand still for another 12 months," he said.

Another of the union's members, Tute Porter-Samuels, a special needs coordinator and deputy principal from Wainuiomata, said the budget's $270 million boost for children with special needs was nowhere near enough.

"It's a drop in the bucket of what we really need. Yeah, thank you for the money that we've got and for ORS [ongoing resourcing scheme] but actually it needs to be at least double that because as it is with what's been given, we're still going to have to pitch children against other children to see who's got the greatest needs when in fact all of these kids deserve that support," she said.

Ms Porter-Samuels said the government had ignored teachers' warnings.

"The current government in opposition were made very aware throughout the last nine years about the needs in the school and they promised a lot - they promised a lot for early childhood, they promised a lot for our kids with additional needs and they really failed to deliver on this."

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the budget provided the biggest increase in education spending in more than a decade and the increase in special education funding was more than three times what had was provided in the previous Budget.


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