Surplus staffing and reorganisation

Surplus staffing - advice for when your school has a falling roll

An actual or projected falling school roll in any given year may lead the Ministry of Education to advise your school that it needs to reduce teaching staff for the following school year.

This document explains the process involved and offers you advice about what you can expect and who you should talk to if your job is affected.

Fewer students may mean fewer teachers required

At the end of term three each year, the Ministry of Education advises each school of "provisional staffing" numbers — that is the number of teachers and units that the MOE will fund for the following year.

In basic terms, if student numbers have dropped in the past year, or the projected numbers for Year 9 coming in the next year are expected to be lower than usual, then your school might be told it needs to lose teaching staff.

Schools must follow the surplus staffing procedures

The amount of the reduction of teaching staff is commonly expressed in full- time teacher equivalents (FTTEs).
Where a school is required to reduce staffing and/or units the school must follow the procedures set out in the following sections of the Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement (STCA) or Area School Teachers' Collective Agreement (ASTCA):

Contact your PPTA field officer for advice and guidance

This can often be a very stressful time for you and your colleagues. To assist you in this situation, each PPTA field office has a surplus staffing coordinator available for you to contact. The field officer for your school is also available to provide assistance.
Making contact with us is particularly important if you believe that you have been disadvantaged by decisions made by your employer at any time during the surplus staffing process.
Your local field office contact details are:

  • Auckland: ph 09 815 8610
  • Hamilton: ph 07 849 0168
  • Palmerston North: ph 06 358 4036
  • Christchurch: ph 03 366 6524
  • Dunedin: ph 03 477 1311

The reduction of staff requires a three step process

At all times it’s important that your employer is consulting with you throughout the process.

First step in the staff reduction process

The employer is expected to try to meet the FTTE reduction by “attrition”. This means that if the reduction is small and there have been (for example) resignations or retirements in the school, the process may stop at this point.

Second step in the staff reduction process

Where a school is unable to meet reductions at the attrition stage, the employer then moves to the second step: calling for volunteers from the teaching staff. Anyone who is considering volunteering should speak with their PPTA field officer to check that they understand the options that are available. The employer has the final say over whether to accept a voluntary offer or not.

Third step in the staff reduction process

Where a school cannot meet the required reductions by attrition or voluntary offers they will need to move to the third and final step. PPTA will assign a surplus staffing nominee to the school. The nominee and field officer are available to speak to your branch in greater detail about the process.

The final and third step is the development of a curriculum and pastoral needs analysis (CAPNA) which assists the employer to make decisions on which position/s need to be disestablished or reduced in status (lose units) based on objective grounds. Issues such as competence or how well-liked a teacher is should never be considered in a CAPNA process. The nominee will monitor the surplus staffing meeting where decisions are made by the employer to make sure the provisions of the relevant collective agreement are followed. It is important to note that the nominee is not a decision maker.

The surplus staffing meeting is in two parts. The first part is to make provisional decisions. The meeting is then adjourned to give affected teachers the opportunity to seek advice and make submissions. The meeting is then reconvened and the second part of the meeting is to consider any new information and make final decisions.

School Reorganisation

A school reorganisation is any change or proposed change in existing employment arrangements which could either:

(i) affect the employment security, tenure, remuneration and/or status of one or more teachers; and/or

(ii) alter a position or role in ways that would require different duties, qualifications, attributes, skills, experience and/or training.

Reorganisations have been undertaken to change:

  • The school’s senior management/leadership structure
  • The school’s pastoral care structure
  • The situation where a unit/units or an allowance/allowances are held for work which no longer needs to be done
  • Changes in curriculum requirements
  • Situations where subjects are no longer viable

Were an employer to undertake a reorganisation (other terms like restructuring are synonymous with this) the surplus staffing provisions of the Collective Agreement (STCA 3.9 or ASTCA 2.13 & Appendix 5) apply. In addition to the Collective Agreement requirements the board is also bound by the good faith provisions of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (ERA).

Field Officers have a PPTA kit to guide schools and branches through a reorganisation and will talk to branches about the requirements of the process, on request. They prefer to be involved from the start of the process and can give advice on what  consultation is and other requirements, including whether an appeal may be warranted.

Reorganisation is not a way of dealing with issues such as competence and discipline. Other provisions in the Collective Agreement cover these situations.

Teachers (including senior leaders) have the protections and benefits of the surplus staffing processes if a school reorganises.

Any costs associated with a school-initiated reorganisation will fall to the school.

The collectives and general employment law require genuine and transparent consultation about reorganisation. The CAPNA illustrate the kind of consultation that is required to ensure that information about positions and unit allocation is correct.

Consultation on proposed changes must be with those who may be generally affected as well as individuals whose roles will be specifically affected; the former about the general shape of the proposal, the latter about the specific impacts on their personal employment.

Consultation must be honest, responsive and communicative, based on the provision of sufficient information (including provision of proposed new job descriptions). The employer must gather and consider opinions in good faith, be prepared to go back to reconsider, allow all thoughts to be aired and looked at, review and consider the input from staff. This also requires the timely notice of meetings along with transparency in relation to the provision of detail and data that the board will rely on to make its decisions so that considered submissions can be made.

Natural justice also requires a fair hearing and unbiased consideration of every submission and the provision of explanations by the employer in response.

The first step is an audit of current positions to establish a baseline and fix errors before starting the reorganisation.

Staff should be given information about the current situation, any proposed changes and the reasons for these, the proposed process for consultation, and be able to provide feedback on these matters in a timely manner.

Where the core role is retained in a reorganisation then the position should be treated as a reduction in status if there is a loss of units and or allowances but not disestablished.


Change management toolkit

What is consultation?

STCA 3.9

ASTCA 2.13 and Appendix 5           


CAPNA [Curriculum and Pastoral Needs Analysis]

The CAPNA is a document which allows a school to analyse its staff usage in relation to its curriculum and pastoral needs.  It is most commonly used when a school has a falling roll, but can be used at any time.

Surplus staffing - contact PPTA if you have been disadvantaged

Any member who has been affected by this year's surplus staffing round and who believes that they have been disadvantaged by their Board's decision should immediately contact their PPTA Field Officer.

Any appeal against the Board's decision will be through the personal grievance process and must be lodged within 90 days.

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Last modified on Thursday, 13 June 2024 04:02