Primary teachers, principals to vote on new employment offers

Primary teachers, principals to vote on new employment offers
Photo credit: Getty/ file

Primary school teachers and principals will vote on new employment offers from the Ministry of Education.

The Ministry has drawn up new collective agreements for teachers and principals, and an online union vote will take place next week on whether to accept the offer.

Education workers union NZEI Te Riu Roa says it remains concerned about a growing teacher shortage and inadequate support for children with additional learning needs.

It said the revised three-year collective agreement for teachers includes an increase to base salaries by 3 percent each year, but it offers no extra funding to support children with additional learning needs such as funding a Special Education Needs Coordinator role (SENCO) in each school.

It said there are no provisions for reducing workloads or class sizes.

For principals, the collective agreement includes an annual 3 percent base salary increase for those at schools with more than 100 students, and a 4.5 percent increase in 2018 and 2019 and 4.4 percent in 2020 for those with less than 100 students, but no provisions to address workloads.

NZEI teacher lead negotiator Liam Rutherford said members would consider whether the offers addressed the needs of children and their learning.

"As teachers and principals we can see that the issues in our schools simply can't wait any longer and our students' learning is already being negatively affected because of the difficulty in recruiting and retaining teachers," he said.

"Member leaders are not making any recommendation to the wider membership about whether to reject or accept the offer."

Figures supplied by the Ministry of Education show that under the offer a new teacher would move from the current $47,980 to a starting salary of $49,419, moving to $50,902 next year and $52,429 in 2020.

Mid-grade teachers currently on $59,621 will get $61,410 under the new offer, moving to $63,252 in 2019 and $65,149 in 2020. Top teachers currently on $75,949 will get $78,227, increasing to $80,574 next year and $82,992 in 2020.

The Ministry said the offer confirms its commitment to work with the sector and look at how to attract, recruit and retain teachers

It's also reviewing how teachers assess learning, and a joint taskforce has been set up to identify the compliance-related administrative tasks that can be reduced or eliminated to free up time for principals and teachers.

The Ministry said Budget 2018 has provided more than $270 million in additional funding for learning support, and Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin is developing a Disability and Learning Support Action Plan.

The revised offers follow a nationwide strike in mid-August that saw 29,000 educators stop work for 24 hours in protest over pay and working conditions. It was the first strike of its kind in 24 years.

A week later a separate nationwide strike saw over 500 learning support specialists including psychologists, speech language therapists, and occupational therapists walk off the job.

If the offers are rejected by the membership, the next steps will be discussed at the NZEI Annual Conference next month.