Hold on - I've got more information about Teachers' pay

In the weekend I wrote about the offer to teachers as I understood it. I was relying on news reports and what I found on the NZEI (teacher's union) website. I spent 3 and a half hours reading the information I could find and writing my last post.

Yesterday teachers were sent information explaining the settlement offer by the NZEI and by NZ School Trustees Association. Both of these emails arrived in my inbox after 3pm, and I did not see either of them until after 7pm. Yes, I was still in my office working, as I'd attending two separate property meetings and wanted to clear my emails before I went home - which I did around 9pm.

The government's offer to teachers according to NZEI President Lynda Stuart ...

"... is certainly an improvement on the last offer of just 3%+3%+3% increases across the board. It would lead to bigger percentage increases for most teachers from November 2020, resulting in a total salary increase of approximately $9,500 - $11,000 over the three year term."

The latest offer has included an extra step on the pay scale, which lifts the maximum earnings of teachers once they reach the top of the scale - this takes 10 years.

Teachers with 10 years or more experience with a 3 year degree qualification, will indeed get an increase to their salary of just over $11,000, although they will be waiting until 2020 to get all of this. This works out to just under $150 per week. This is certainly much better than what I had worked out in the weekend and may well be enough to make some teachers vote to accept the offer.

The NZEI and teachers have said all along that it's not just about the money. There is nothing in this offer to address workload. This means that...

  1. Year 4 - 8 students can still expect to have class sizes of 30+ - this is the largest of all age groups in both primary and secondary education as funding ratio's for schools allow for smaller classes up to Year 3, and from Year 9. The numbers of children per teacher, and the vast array of learning needs that they bring to school, absolutely makes a difference to a teacher's workload.
  2. No more time to get the work done - Teachers will still only get 10 hours release time a term (compared to the 10 days that secondary teachers get). It's the workload that's turning bright young New Zealanders off teaching as a career, and driving others into new jobs or early retirement.
The government have announced that they will take on 600 Learning Support Coordinators, but we don't know what this will actually mean for schools. As there are over 2500 schools, I'm left wondering if Ridgway will receive any benefit at all from these 600 new roles. We'll have to wait until 2020 to find out. We currently have children that need the extra support that a full time Learning Support Coordinator could give. These children are not well served under the current system and any provision for these children impacts on every other child in the school.

I feel that education has reached a crisis point. For decades schools have relied upon the good will of teachers and support staff to go the extra mile and 'do it for the kids'. What we are seeing now is that young people are simply not prepared to sign up for the reality of teaching and more and more experienced teachers are looking for a way out. The reality for teachers is,
  • long hours
  • increasing numbers of students with complex needs
  • frequent undervaluing of expertise and professional knowledge
Teacher strikes are going ahead this week. I'm not sure if teachers will accept the offer, but if they do, the problems are a long way from being solved.


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