Educational Institute calls for school staffing overhaul in new report to help overstretched Kiwi teachers

The primary teachers' union, the Educational Institute, wants a big overhaul of school staffing.

In a report published on Thursday, a panel convened by the union is calling for a teacher aide in every classroom.

It also wants smaller class sizes and a day a week of release time out of the classroom for every teacher.

The panel, led by the former Education Minister Steve Maharey, received more than 2600 submissions, half of them from teachers.

The report said the staffing system has not changed much since the 1990s, but the demands on teachers had increased a lot in that time.

It said classrooms were more diverse and teachers were struggling with more children with behavioural and learning problems.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Te Manukura Liam Rutherford believed the sector would welcome the report.

"In their submissions to the panel, educators delivered a consistent message - that they are stretched to the limit, and that significant change is needed to address their needs and our children's.

"Educators are in this line of work because they love it. They're passionate about seeing tamariki succeed and do well. But for years now, they've said their workloads have been increasing and that it's getting harder to meet their students' increasingly diverse needs.

"The report released today shows clearly that our current primary staffing model is inadequate: that right now, with the resources available to them, it's just not possible for our country's educators to give each and every child the support they need to achieve their potential.

"While this is awful to hear, I hope that the people who work in our schools find it validating."

Key recommendations from the report:

  • increase classroom release time to give teachers and teacher aides more time for planning
  • lower student to teacher ratios so teachers could spend more time with each student
  • provide additional, centrally funded learning support resource to ensure all students' needs are met
  • provide additional targeted resource to strengthen Māori and Pasifika education.