Concerned education unions consider joint action
The future of New Zealand children’s education hangs in the balance if the crisis in education is not fixed, teachers and principals say.
The combined national executives of PPTA Te Wehengarua and NZEI Te Riu Roa - elected leaders of 48,000 principals and teachers - met today and agreed to jointly campaign for better pay to attract and retain teachers, and have the time to teach.
National presidents of the PPTA and NZEI Jack Boyle and Lynda Stuart say: “We know that this government has inherited a teacher shortage and a desperate situation for children with additional learning needs because of the failure to plan and fund education properly and we acknowledge that they are working to try and fix it.
“However, what we see now is an unprecedented crisis and it affects your tamariki, mokopuna, nieces and nephews – it’s the future of our children we are talking about.”
NZEI members have just finished a week of strike meetings and rallies and are now in the process of considering the latest offer. The outcome of this will not be known for some weeks.
The two executives agreed that should primary teachers and principals reject the current offer, both unions would campaign together to win public and Government support for more investment in teaching and learning in 2019.
PPTA members rejected the government’s first offer and are currently running paid union meetings until November 23 to discuss the second offer.
Jack Boyle says, “If there is not urgent action there will be children who leave school never having had a specialist maths teacher, never having a tech teacher. When nearly half of all new teachers leave within their first five years, and 40 percent fewer people even want to become a teacher we know the issues are dire.”
Lynda Stuart says that as a principal, she is supporting colleagues who are desperate for help.
“We want teaching to be the creative, rewarding career that it used to be - with teachers having time to teach, students having the support and individualised learning that they need and principals having the time to lead.”
She says that principals are at the front-end of the teacher shortage and in many cases cannot find enough teachers to adequately staff their school and cover for sickness. She says workload, including finding support for children with additional needs, is also an issue, as recent research about the wellbeing of principals and school-leaders shows.
The joint executives called on the government to:
• Urgently and publicly acknowledge that teachers’ terms and conditions of employment are key drivers of recruitment and retention;
• Urgently reduce excessive and unproductive workload for teachers and principals;
• Make a strong commitment to education through significantly increasing the value of the offers to primary and secondary teachers and principals;
• Remove all claw-backs of terms and conditions from the table in collective agreement negotiations.
• That in the event that NZEI Te Riu Roa members reject the current Ministry offer and there are no satisfactory offers from the Ministry of Education before the start of Term 1, 2019, NZEI and PPTA Executives in principle approve:
• The development of joint campaign plans to be put into action in 2019 to support member activism and community engagement;
• Joint actions, subject to appropriate member endorsement, by NZEI and PPTA members in Term 1 2019.
They said that:
• Teacher shortages undermine educational equity and opportunity for children and young people across Aotearoa;
• The current shortage of primary and secondary teachers constitutes a crisis;
• The government’s proposals to address the shortages are insufficient;
• Excessive and unproductive workload has a detrimental impact on teacher and principal wellbeing, and educational outcomes for learners;
• Terms and conditions of employment established in collective agreements are a key mechanism to recruit and retain teachers.