It was great, today, to see so many coalition MPs, including the Prime Minister, turn up in the Beehive’s grounds today to hear and acknowledge why NZEI members were striking.
Chris Hipkins spoke eloquently about his understanding of the issues, agreeing that more must be done for students with special educational needs and that staff workload and retention issues must be addressed, and for that we were very thankful.
And we understand that not everything can be addressed at once. We get that this government inherited a cesspool of bad policies from National and ACT. We know the pot of money is not bottomless. But we also know we are in dire straits right now. That the issues are happening all around us, and there is no time to waste.
So, whilst we are very glad this government treats education staff with respect and genuinely seem to listen to us, we need more than just sympathy; We need action.
Before it’s too late.
Primary and Intermediate school NZEI members have voted overwhelmingly to reject the Ministry’s paltry pay and conditions offer, and to hold a three-hour strike on 15 August. But many at the recent paid unions meetings felt that a three-hour strike starting in the afternoon would not give a strong enough message.
For most teachers, a three-hour afternoon strike would impact one hour of classroom time, the rest of the three hours being after 3 o clock. Commentators point out that teachers’ work after 3 o clock – weekly meetings, planning, marking, paperwork and so on – would likely be rescheduled and still have to be done at some other time. As strikes go, that’s rather lame.
At meetings across the country there was a strong call to replace the three-hour strike with a full-day strike. A whole day. That, many argued, would have more impact and send a far stronger message.
Whether or not NZEI members strike for three hours or a whole day will in the end be down to them. It’s their union – they make that choice. The union is canvassing opinion now, and state that “[d]epending on the level of feedback, an online ballot may be held early next term to vote on whether to extend the strike to a full day on the 15th of August“.
Whatever they think is the best cause of action, NZEI members must make their voices heard. The time is now.
~ Dianne Khan, NZEI member
On Tuesday 5th July 2016, thousands of teachers in England are striking, and the reasons that are doing so are very pertinent to what is happening in New Zealand. Everything that is happening there is already being put in place here, bit by bit by bit.
Here, Charlotte Carson explains the reasons that the teachers are striking and why parents should care:
1. It’s not really about pay.
As a profession I think we are well paid. That is why we have good quality professionals working hard to teach children, inspire them and look after them. But this is about to change.
2. The White Paper
The government’s latest white paper proposes DEREGULATION of teachers’ pay and conditions. Currently all local authority employed teachers in England are paid according to the same contract. Like nurses and doctors, we have automatic pay progression (so the longer you serve the more you get – an incentive to stay in the profession), pay portability (if we move schools we get the same basic pay – they can’t pay us less – this stops a competition between schools for teachers based on money – without it richer schools will always poach good staff from poorer schools) .
3. What is performance-related pay?
The introduction of performance related pay will mean that teachers get paid according to exam results. As a parent I would never want a teacher to look at my child and think ‘is he going to wreck my data and stop my pay rise?’ We are not working in sales – it is hugely problematic to pay us based on exam results.
4. Why should non-teachers care about teachers pay and conditions?
Deregulation also means that our working hours, holidays, pay, sick pay and maternity pay will be individually decided by the employer – the academy that is. An Academy in Manchester has in its contract that maternity pay will be ‘subject to affordability’. Who will become a teacher if the terms and conditions are unattractive?
A mum said to me yesterday ‘but in my job I don’t get good maternity pay – why should I care about teachers?’. My answer is this: public sector pay and conditions set the bar for private sector pay and conditions. If we get screwed you will get screwed too.
5. What’s the problem with academies and free schools?
Academies and free schools are businesses. That means their primary concern is money. The government is paving the way for them to become profit-making businesses. Already many academies double up as wedding venues, conference facilities etc. No harm in generating revenue eh? Well only if it’s being ploughed back into the school and the children. Let’s remember schools are about children aren’t they? It seems not.
Many academies including Harris academies have recently got in trouble for deliberately excluding ‘problem children’ and paying local authority schools to take them off their hands – because they wreck the data. How can you publish your excellent GCSE results if some stubborn children just won’t make progress! The answer in some academies is to get rid of them – then you don’t have to report their results.
So if the money isn’t spent on the kids where does it go?
Do a Google search on Haberdashers Free School account fraud. He ran off with £4million! How did he manage to do that? Answer – because he was only accountable to the board of governors and the head teacher. Local authority schools are overseen by a democratically elected local council. Academies don’t have to bother with that level of accountability. And the government also wants to get rid of parent governors. This would mean that academies would only be accountable to themselves. We’re talking about millions of pounds of public money. Already there have been many documented cases of fraud in academies and free schools.
6. Qualified teachers v. unqualified teachers
Academies and free schools don’t have to employ qualified teachers. Unqualified teachers are cheaper of course. But I know which one I want teaching my children.
This is all I have time to write just now.
The problem is that most teachers are so busy that they haven’t taken time to communicate all this with parents. I think we need to get much better at doing that.
But just think about your children’s teachers – do you trust them? If you do then please trust that they are on strike for the right reasons – for the future of our jobs and our schools – defending education from privatisation.”
New Zealand parents, take note – this is all coming our way, too.