Public overwhelmingly backs more money for teachers - poll

Teachers throughout the country could soon be walking off the job, and they believe the public is behind them.

The NZEI, which represents primary teachers, and the secondary teachers' PPTA will this week vote on joint strike action as a new poll reveals 83 percent of the public believe teachers need better pay.

PPTA junior vice president Melanie Webber says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has fantastic aspirations for kids, but she does not seem willing to make changes.

"I'd like to see the Government doing what needs to be done to make sure that we're keeping trained and experienced teachers in our classrooms; that we're encouraging fantastic new teachers into our classrooms, but keeping them beyond that five-year mark."

The outcome of the votes will be announced early next week.

The poll, commissioned by the unions and released on Monday, found:

  • 89 percent of Kiwis think more money should be spent on education
  • Almost 90 percent believe there aren't enough teachers in both primary and secondary schools
  • 75 percent want class sizes reduced
  • 80 percent think teachers are getting bogged down in admin.

Webber says the Government's looking to get more teachers into the classroom, but doing nothing to retain them.

"They're doing nothing about the circumstances that are there, the reasons why we are in this crisis situation. Parents know that because they can see what's going on in schools."

NZEI vice president Liam Rutherford says the results send a clear message to the Government.

"This is coming thick and fast from the teachers and principals... that are dealing with it first-hand. What we've consistently shown through the campaign is that parents and the wider public are also seeing the effects. Now is the time to do something."

The Government last week announced another $95 million will be spent on recruitment. The Budget later this month is expected to deliver more.

"We're investing more funding in this Budget to get more teachers in front of classrooms than National managed over its entire nine years in office," Education Minister Chris Hipkins said, pointing out teacher education enrolments dropped 40 percent under the previous National-led Government.

Rutherford says they just want the Government to recognise that without more money on the table, the issues will not go away.

"In the interests of the children of this country... and wanting to protect teachers and principals, they need to front up with more money to get this settled, so everyone can get back to work."