ACT's teacher pay hike disastrous for pupils - NZEI

  • 03/09/2017

An education policy pledging a huge pay hike for teachers is being slammed by a union which represents 50,000 of them.

On Saturday ACT announced a plan to spent $1 billion extra on teachers' pay, letting schools pay teachers whatever they think they're worth. The average salary boost would be around $20,000.

The catch is, to get the funding the school has to opt-out of collective agreements and the centralised payroll system.

New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) president Lynda Stuart says it's a recipe for disaster.

"It's certainly not positive when you are trying to pit principals and teachers against each other. That's not the way that we want to work in this country," she told Newshub.

"We all want to work together. It's certainly not the way that I would be interested in working."

ACT says it'll incentivise teachers to do better, and attract better talent to the profession.

"What we now see is a hollowing out of the teaching profession," he told supporters at the party's campaign launch on Saturday.

"There are lots of recent graduates teaching. There are lots of veteran teachers who have been doing it for a working lifetime. But it's getting harder to find young teachers who stay in the profession and in their classrooms."

But Ms Stuart says the students will ultimately lose out, as collaboration between teachers diminishes and they're forced to compete against one another for pay.

"It's bringing in that competitive environment. It's absolutely detracting from the collaborative environment."

Teachers have previously argued against bulk funding measures, saying linking teacher performance to students' results isn't fair.

"A school with school-ready students may seem successful for meeting national targets even if its students underperform relative to their capabilities," a report from the right-leaning New Zealand Initiative found earlier this year.

"Conversely, a school with many lower starting-ability students may seem a failure for not meeting national benchmarks even though its students may have progressed substantially."

National has promised new teachers at all schools across Auckland up to about $17,000 to fight the growing cost of living in the city - paid out in chunks at the end of the third, fourth and fifth years in the profession.

Political rejection

Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins told TVNZ's Q&A programme on Sunday there wouldn't be a politician in New Zealand that thought teachers shouldn't be paid more.

"But I think ACT's policy is completely nuts," he said.

"What's a bad teacher? Because, actually, bad teachers shouldn't be in the system so we should be paying all teachers better because any bad teachers shouldn't be teaching."

National's education spokeswoman, Nikki Kaye, was also vehemently opposed to performance pay.

"I've had a lot of feedback from teachers across the country, they quite like ACT's policy in terms of paying teachers more, but we don't support performance pay," she said.