What does the reliever shortage mean for you as a teacher, and the tamariki you teach?

Kia ora, I have been relieving for some time. I am extremely fortunate to be employed permanently for an 8hr day 3 days a week.

In the beginning I was based at one kindergarten which was fantastic for tamariki, kaiako and whanau. Strong relationships developed, I was able to plan learning experience according to the childrens needs. I was able to korero with my colleagues and whanau around they child’s ongoing learning and challenges. The tamariki got to know me well and they felt connected when their kaiako was away… we carried on with the current program which I knew because I was at the latest staff meeting.

Currently this is not always the case due to a reliever shortage.

If I am not needed at one kindergarten I will be moved to another. One day I was in the middle of gardening with the tamariki, we were planting vegetables when I got a phone call at 10.30am asking that I go to another centre as a teacher was extremely unwell and there was no one else to provide cover. This was extremely unsettling as I had to leave the group of tamariki whom I had been working with. This is common practice now as we just don’t have enough relievers to cover all the leave we now face in our kindergartens.

What will it take to fix the reliever shortage?

The service needs to provide better working conditions which attracts relievers and reflects the value they have within our service. Removing the [reliever] pay cap is essential as experienced teachers are key with their knowledge and ability to keep our kindergartens working day to day as needed. This includes building positive relationships with tamariki, providing teaching experiences which engage and extend the child while also supporting the team with their program. Relievers also often are uplifting and bring positivity and joy to the kindergartens. Their energy can be infectious in an environment which is currently pretty tough.

When we fix the reliever shortage, what impact will that change have on you as a teacher, and the tamariki you teach?

It will make me feel that children matter, that NZ believe in the importance of Early Childhood! We will be able to provide quality environments where teachers know there are enough relievers so that if they are unwell they can stay home. Relievers can stay in one place asks not be shifted in the middle of their day. Children will be able to have teachers who a present, positive and supported ! Our tamariki will thrive .

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