Workload and staffing to be raised during accord discussions
PPTA is committed by the recent paid union meeting vote by members to participating in an accord process. The accord was an outcome of the forum between the Minister of Education, the leaders of PPTA and NZEI and the Secretary of Education which also led to the settlement of the secondary and primary teachers’ collective agreements in June.
The accord is a formal agreement to discuss and seek ways forward on matters of long term interest to the parties. The process is sponsored by the minister, and supported by an independent facilitator/chairperson. The participants are the presidents and general secretaries of the two unions along with the Secretary of Education and one of her deputy secretaries.
Workload, wellbeing and future workforce
The accord purpose statement is: “to transparently give effect to building a high trust environment where the teaching profession is highly regarded, sustainable, and is fit for now and the future of learning.”
There are six areas of interest for the accord: workload, future workforce, wellbeing, collective agreements, union negotiated benefits and change management.
Any party can bring matters to the accord for discussion. PPTA plans to raise a number of items regarding workload and staffing. These include outstanding matters from previous joint reports such as the curriculum staffing disadvantage of large schools (which leads to large class sizes), the adequacy (or lack thereof) of pastoral and guidance and management staffing allowances and time for teachers to teach.
Accord discussions delayed
At the time of printing the accord group had not yet met (though the association has had preliminary discussions with the facilitator about the process). Worryingly, the start of the accord discussions had been delayed because the minister wanted the ongoing principals’ collective agreement negotiations to be settled first.
It is important to recognise that the accord is an undertaking to talk about issues. There are no guarantees of any specific outcomes, nor is any funding set aside. So far the outcomes linked with the accord and the settlement of the STCA are the eight teacher only days for NCEA planning over the term of the agreement and an undertaking to remove the existing requirements around teacher appraisal from legislation (how is not yet specified). These were welcome moves by the government, but of course neither has a financial cost.
Government credibility on the line
The idea is that the parties will develop recommendations for the minister around long term issues, including matters left over from the industrial round. These are likely to include issues generated from the various reviews and fora that are already underway – the NCEA, Tomorrow’s Schools and school resourcing reviews and the ongoing Education Workforce Strategy Group.
The accord members have to report every three months to the minister. Recommendations would have to go to cabinet for approval. There is no guarantee that joint recommendations would always be reached, or that the minister would take them to cabinet, or that cabinet would approve funding to implement them. However, by proposing this alternative mechanism for addressing issues away from the negotiating table the minister has placed his credibility and that of the government on the line. There is a mutual interest for the process to produce results for members and schools that can be seen to be worthwhile and for that to be visible to members before 2021.
PPTA will report every three months to members on the progress, discussions and outcomes of the accord through the members’ only section of the PPTA website. There will be more detailed updates at the Annual Conference this year and in 2020 and 2021. The latter two will be particularly important in determining whether the process is producing meaningful outcomes for schools and for teachers and will help delegates determine the nature of the 2022 collective agreement campaign.
The full text of the accord agreement can be found on the Collective Agreements section of our webiste: