Settlement for primary teachers

After historic joint strike action across primary, secondary and area schools on 29 May, the Minister of Education intervened in our dispute and called a conference with the leadership of NZEI Te Riu Roa and PPTA.

Following that meeting, settlements and an accord between the three parties were developed. See the key points below.

This shift followed 18 months of tireless campaigning by members and a long period of deadlock.

National Executive recommended the proposed settlements because, although they didn't give us everything we asked for, they represented a significant improvement and a framework for further work.

Ultimately though, the decision was entirely up to members, and while primary teachers voted overwhelmingly to accept their settlement, primary principals voted strongly to reject theirs. Primary principals received a following offer which gave them pay parity with their secondary colleagues which they then voted to accept.

What's in the settlement for primary teachers?

Pay parity is restored

The settlement contains a new, unified pay scale that restores pay parity across the state schooling sector.

This means a teacher with the same experience, qualifications and responsibilities will be paid the same no matter which part of the sector they teach in.

It was fundamental that this was restored and we are glad the Government has agreed. The Government has also agreed to jointly negotiate the unified pay scale with both us and PPTA whenever our agreements expire. This will mean parity for our teachers is maintained long term.

A new top step of $90,000

There will also be a new top salary step of $90,000 which will be accessible by Q3+, Q4, and Q5 teachers. This is a new, unified top step across the state schooling sector.

Larger pay increases

The unified pay scale means teachers have achieved significantly larger pay increases in this  settlement than in the previous offer.

Steps on the base pay scale will increase by an average of 12.5% over the term of the agreement

All current teachers would see their base salary increase by at least 18.5% by July 2021, taking into account step progression. The median base salary increase by July 2021 would be $14,500.

Estimate your pay increase over the term of the agreement by using the pay calculator below.

Primary teacher pay increase calculator

Enter your pay step at 1 July 2019 and qualification group below to see what your new base salary is after 1 July 2021.

Note that this takes into account the pay scale changes and normal step progression.

Reading the new pay scale

The pay calculator above will tell you your base salary after 1 July 2021. The colour-coded pay scale below shows you how you will progress up the scale over the next two years. 

Find your current step, then follow its colour to show your step movements.

Note: because the settlement changes from a 12 step scale by condensing the bottom 3 steps, the step names change but the base salaries increase.

 e.g. A teacher currently on step 8 Q1 max ($59,621) would be on the new step 6 as of 1 July 2019 ($62,000) and would progress to new step 7 ($68,000) in July 2020 and new step 8 ($75,190) in July 2021.

Also note: Q3 teachers on step 11 would progress to the new Q3 max step 10 ($85,490) in July 2021, but Q3+, Q4 and Q5 teachers currently on step 11 will progress to the new top step 11 ($90,000) in July 2021.


Understanding the pay scale movement in July 2020

The value of all steps increased on July 1 2020. All primary teachers should have received a pay increase by now. Teachers who have not yet reached the maximum step for their qualification group will remain on the step they were on immediately prior to July 1 and move up a step at their next pay progression anniversary.

Teachers who have been on the maximum step for their qualification group for at least 12 months as at July 1 2020 will be entitled to move to the next step up the pay scale towards the new maximum step for their qualifications groups.  If you are in this category, July 1 will become your new anniversary date for pay progression. Teachers in this category will continue to move up one step each year on this date until they reach their new maximum step. 

Teachers who have not yet reached their maximum step will continue to move up a step annually on their usual salary progression anniversary date until they reach the maximum step for their salary group. 

A $1,500 one-off payment and advantage for union members

Aside from the pay scale changes, the settlement also contains a one-off gross payment of $1,500 (pro rated for part-time staff) for NZEI Te Riu Roa members only and a three-month delay in passing on of new conditions to non-union members. We see this as recognition for your long and tireless campaign and the sacrifices you've had to make to get here.

Lifting of Q caps

Along with the unified pay scale, as with the previous offer the settlement will see a lifting of qualification caps from 1 July 2020, opening up a far greater progression pathway. 

This would mean Q1, Q2, and Q3 would all have the same maximum step (new step 10) from July 2020.

This is something members have fought for over many years.


On workload, the settlement doesn't give us what we wanted, which was more classroom release time.

Instead, the accord that accompanies the offer gives schools eight extra teacher-only days across the three year term of the agreement, without extending the school year to cover them.

In the Accord, the Government also recognises that the current performance appraisal requirements contribute to a low-trust, high workload environment. They have committed to removing the current legislative appraisal requirements.

The government will also work with NZEI and the PPTA to review class sizes and the formulas related to them, and will develop a wellbeing framework.

A moratorium on new Communities of Learning

We're also pleased that following our talks, the Government has announced a moratorium on new Communities of Learning.


Learning support

The settlement does not contain anything new for learning support. The Government previously announced 614 FTTE additional learning support coordinators.


Further work in a new accord

The accord sets out a number of other commitments from government to work with NZEI Te Riu Roa and the PPTA to address other issues in our profession.