PPTA President

Image Angela Roberts PPTA president 2013-2014

News and views from PPTA president Angela Roberts.

Includes the PPTA News viewpoint and his responses to various education issues raised in the media.

(Angela began her presidency mid January 2013)



Braving the storm: bulk funding on the horizon

PPTA president Angela Roberts discusses the Minister of Education's plans to bulk fund education.

Ministerial scheming versus teaching profession 

The minister of education, at a recent gathering hosted by the Education Council, revealed (not for the first time) her ambition of witnessing the day teachers choose to pay fees to the council rather than their union. The idea that the hand-picked group of ministerial appointees that make up the council would turn their minds to negotiating teachers’ pay and conditions, addressing intolerable workload issues, reducing class-size, stabilising the increasingly-fragile NCEA and resisting privatisation in all its forms, including profit-making charter schools, seems unlikely. Nor do we imagine the council has plans to venture into the complex world of employment law and personal grievances - even if it could get round the rather obvious conflict of interest.

But if you still have your high frequencies, you will hear in the minister’s comments the dog whistling for a teaching profession that is more obedient to her whims. How annoying it must be for her to have the council dump on her latest scheme – bringing back bulk funding.

Bulk funding goes hand in hand with under-funding education

Apparently schools don’t have a problem with being severely underfunded. No, their problem is they don’t have the ‘flexibility’, to cash up their teacher resource and spend it on other things. The shortfall in the operations grant that leaves schools struggling to fund teacher aides or ICT can be fixed in one fell swoop – cash up a teacher. It’s so clever, it’s a wonder no one has thought of it before.

Another government attempt to reduce teacher numbers and increase class size

Except they have and it didn’t end well so this time they have been more cunning. Knowing a little bit of history and remembering the pain of the failed attempts to increase class size in 2012, they have opted for incrementalism. The most precious resources schools have are teachers and they never have enough of them. Any additional money raised locally is spent on teachers. Secondary schools already fund an additional 900 teachers through locally raised funds.

Trading teacher staffing for cash

Given this, we should not expect mass redundancies immediately. What we will see however is a gradual erosion as the government clamps down on funding, forcing schools to trade teachers for cash - a few more kids in a class here, the reduction of a few non-contacts there and bingo – a couple more teacher aides or a bundle of laptops.

And welcome to the precariat. Why would a school ever employ a teacher in a permanent position again given that they will have no idea how much money they will be able to commit to staffing in any one year?