Adjustments to the school day - PPTA advice

The New Zealand Post Primary Teachers' Association / Te Wehengarua (PPTA) advice to schools regarding adjustments to the school day.

The minister of education has just advised boards that they may seek approval to adjust the school day provided that:

  • the board has consulted parents, staff, and the local community about the proposal and it is generally acceptable;
  • the adoption of the proposal will not result in the students of the school spending less time in school than other students in comparable schools; and
  • that such a variation is appropriate in the circumstances.

We are aware that some schools have already altered their opening hours to suit local needs.

PPTA's advice on adjustments to the school day suggest that any decision to do so should adhere to the following principles.

  • Custom and practice applies to the working hours of teachers employed by the school.
  • The Employment Relations Act (Part 1 4(4) (c) and (d)) applies and an appropriate and genuine consultation process is required with staff who would be affected as well as the parent community.
  • The changes are intended to bring benefits to students' learning.
  • The overall workload of the teaching staff is not increased individually or collectively.
  • That the relevant provisions of the collective agreement(s) apply.
  • That the proposal is properly thought through and robust enough to avoid changes and reversions in school operation times.

PPTA research into proposals for change to school operation times indicates that:

  1. where there is an effective process of consultation a broader range of issues involved in change are more widely canvassed (and so better decisions are made with fewer unexpected consequences).
  2. the decision reached is more likely to be supported by the teaching staff and local community.
  3. the chance of the change occurring as a result of the consultation is no less than the chance of the change occurring with inadequate consultation.

We have asked for clarification about how the minister will assess whether a request is "appropriate in the circumstances".

If there are proposals for significant changes to your school day the branch should developa position on the proposed changes. Ask your local field officer for advice on your rights, process and any issues, eg technical redundancy which may arise from changes to the operation of the school.