It's time.

In 2018, we’ll be making the message loud and clear – It’s Time. Time to lead, teach and learn.

This means freeing teachers to teach so every child receives the personal attention they need to learn and thrive. It means freeing principals to focus on leading and it means ensuring we have enough teachers by attracting more people to teaching, by respecting them as professionals and paying them properly.

Our students come to school to learn all the skills and abilities that they’ll need to grow up healthy, happy and productive in the 21st century. Our nation can afford to ensure every child receives the education they need to succeed in life, and for every educator to be trusted and resourced to make that a reality. It’s simply a matter of priorities.

As we head into negotiations for the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement this year, we’ll be standing together for our students and for an education system that values, attracts and retains the amazing teachers who are entrusted with the education of our children.

In paid union meetings in term 1, we will decide our specific goals and it’s important that every member has their say in this crucial campaign.

Our students are worth it and so are we. 

Survey: Principals are making cuts in 2018

We asked principals how their 2018 budgets were shaping up. We've learned that many are planning to make cuts to teacher aides' hours and positions just to make ends meet for their schools. Meanwhile, there just aren't enough teachers to fill positions or do relieving work. 

Questions and answers

So is this about a pay rise?

That’ll be up to members to decide, in Paid Union Meetings which will be held early in the new year.

But members are clear – they want a significant pay rise.  They’ve had years of 1 to 2 percent pay increases that are simply not keeping up with the growing demands of the job, and the cost of living in New Zealand, particularly in our big cities.

The OECD has warned that our teachers are paid ten percent less than other New Zealanders with similar levels of skills and experience, and they’re paid less much less than their peers overseas. NZ teachers have got some of the highest workloads, biggest classes, and lowest pay of any teachers in the developed world (OECD Education at a Glance, 2017). 

NZ  is ranked 19th in the OECD for teachers pay based on purchasing power (Economist, Education for the Future Index).That’s well behind the UK, the US, Australia, Canada – in fact, all the countries we like to compare ourselves with.

We simply can’t retain and recruit inspiring teachers with these kinds of workloads, or at this level of pay. If it’s not fixed, the teacher supply crisis will worsen and more children will be taught in doubled up classes of 50 to 60 kids.

What do you mean by freeing teachers to teach?

By far the biggest concern that teachers bring up is workload. They’re dealing with increasing Government requirements to constantly assess and measure children and, at the same time there are more children with high and complex needs in their classrooms without the extra support those learners need.

Modern learning environments and Communities of Learning also create more demand for adult-to-adult collaboration, taking time away from planning and assessment time.

In addition, teachers are increasingly providing support to children who lack basic food and clothing, are transient or in poor housing. 

The result is teachers have less time and energy for their core job of planning and delivering programmes that motivate and engage children in learning.

Teachers are at breaking point. We simply need more humans in schools, whether that’s specialist teachers, support staff or classroom teachers. In next year’s PUMs, members will come up with claims to reduce their workload so teachers are freed to teach.

Our members are fed up seeing kids miss out, and they’re burning out while trying to stop that from happening.

How are you going to get more teachers when there’s already a shortage?

This is the Government’s challenge, and it’s been the challenge that it has failed to face up to particularly in Auckland.

However, we do know that there are 120,000 registered teachers, but only about 100,000 practicing.

Anecdotally, we hear of teachers leaving the profession for other work that’s better paid, and less stressful.

We believe that if teachers are valued, and respected, if their workload is realistic, and if they are paid properly many of these people would come back to teaching.

Any changes in staffing will be phased in, and there’d be scope to give young teachers more permanent and fulfilling roles too, which would keep them in teaching.

Are you preparing to strike?

It’s far too early to say. 

Taking action for us is about members coming together to fight for our children’s education. If you look at last year’s campaign over bulk funding, we came together with parents, and children to create the kind of pressure that forced the Government to back-down on its bulk funding plans. We did the same in 2012 over class sizes.

The first step for our members is to hold paid union meetings in the new year.

But the resolution our members made at the NZEI annual conference shows that our members are committed to take action if that’s needed to get real solutions to fix their pay and workload.