Teachers face a never-ending conveyor belt streaming negative news and new initiatives straight to our desks, each new thing vying for our attention and time. What are we to do?
Do we focus on the latest research on literacy or the changes to teacher appraisal? Do we read the news story about the sacked Principal or the one about the latest Novopay cock-up? Do we attend that great PD session being offered, or go to the union meeting? Do we scan over the figures for what charter schools are being paid or spend the time trying to persuade our own students’ parents to pay a donation?
We can’t keep up with it all, because on top of all that there are actual students that need our time. And they win out, always.
As an example of things bombarding NZ educators just now, we have:
There are more things but, really, I think you get the picture.
This is a teacher’s lot. We are trying to focus on planning lessons, marking, differentiating, learning about this or that disorder we think may be affecting a student in our class, attending meetings, collecting evidence that we are doing our job, up-skilling, organising trips, taking after-school clubs, and – yes – actually teaching. And on top of everything, there’s this pile of stuff pressing down.
I’ll say it again, it’s exhausting. And stressful.
I wonder whether, just for a while at least, the powers that be would consider just letting us leach?
Too much to ask?
~ Dianne Khan
NZEI is continuing to vigorously pursue its case on behalf of 6000 support staff members in schools who are going to have their pay reduced for 27 fortnights in 2016 because of the way Novopay is dealing with pay annualisation.
Our lawyers have met this week with Crown Law and the Employment Authority. The Authority had suggested a hearing in August and we have strongly opposed such a big delay in the proceedings. As a result, the Authority has agreed to meet next week to set an earlier date for a hearing.
We will inform members once a date has been set.
About 27% of support staff have been affected by Novopay’s proposal to have 27 pay days in 2016, rather than the normal 26 pay periods.
Novopay’s approach will reduce the fortnightly payments to these support staff by approximately 3.7% each pay day over the 27 fortnights from pay period 23 in January.
NZEI believes that this is unacceptable. Technical calendar reasons have been given for Novopay’s proposed approach but Novopay has not been able to adequately explain why the reduction in fortnightly pay must occur.
The reduction in pay affects members who are already on low incomes. We are also concerned that Novopay’s decision was made without any consultation or prior discussion either with members themselves or NZEI Te Riu Roa. The situation has been compounded by poor communication from Novopay, with resulting confusion and concern in the sector.
Please call 0800 NZEI HELP if you have any queries about this.
“Today’s announcement that the National Government will effectively nationalise Novopay, is an indictment on National’s blinkered ‘market knows best’ ideology and the entire teaching force are owed an apology,” Green Party Co leader Metiria Turei said.
“Teachers have been through hell for the last two years, while the Government has continued to deny there is even a real problem.
“Just a few weeks ago Finance Minister Bill English was blaming the principals’ collective agreements for Novopay’s problems, saying Novopay was as good as it can get and ‘it can be improved now only by making the underlying collective agreements less complicated than they are’.
“Now National is saying that Novopay is so dysfunctional it needs to nationalise the whole system – well which story is the one they want to stick to?
“It is well known that National wants to bulk fund teacher salaries and this is the obvious next threat on the horizon. With the Government in charge of teacher pay, National must not be allowed to use the Novopay fiasco to make this happen.
“Teachers have endured two years of hell, never knowing from one week to the next if they’ll get paid or what they’ll get paid and they need to be assured that the bulk funding nightmare is not set to follow that.
“Teachers are owed an apology and the promise of full and proper compensation for any losses. “It now looks like the people of New Zealand will be tens of millions out of pocket from this fiasco. Talent 2 must be made to pay the costs of any expenses the taxpayer or any individual teachers have incurred, any less is to let them off the hook.
‘The fact is there was a perfectly good payroll system operating before Novopay came along and National’s attempts to get a bargain basement deal are at the heart of this
whole fiasco. “Of course Novopay needs to be dealt with once and for all – teachers’ deserve nothing less – but they have been put through hell and I doubt they’ll ever forget that,” Mrs Turei said.
It appears the government has earmarked millions of dollars this year for Novopay remedial work, says the NZEI.
Costs associated with payroll services had previously been included in the budget for “Support and Resources for Education Providers”, but in the 2014 Budget, $43.2m has been pulled from that budget to create a dedicated budget line called “Payroll Services”.
This year’s budget also shows that last year $9.2m was diverted from “Support and Resources for Teachers”, plus another $4.348m from other education budget lines to prop up the disastrous payroll system:
$1.025 million from Curriculum Support (p 20 of Supplementary Estimates document)
$1.5 million from the National Study Awards (p 207)
$1.823 million from Primary Education (p 210)
$300,000 from Special Needs Support (p 212)
NZEI Te Riu Roa spokesman Ian Leckie said students and teachers were missing out on resources to support teaching and learning because of a payroll mess that had been going on for two years and appeared to show no signs of improving.
“The ministry needs to fess up and tell us how much of this $43.2m is for normal service charges and how much is for projected cost overruns and fixes. We asked the ministry last week and they haven’t been able to supply an answer,” he said.
Mr Leckie said parents of special needs children would be particularly galled to hear that $300,000 had been scraped out of special needs support to prop up Novopay.
“Special needs education is extremely underfunded and kids are missing out on help that will enable them to succeed at school. Parents and teachers have been calling for more funding. Not only was there nothing for these children in the budget, but the government has quietly siphoned much-needed funds out of the previous budget,” he said.
Meanwhile a report by the Auditor General details the extent of the problems that the school sector faced in completing their 2012/13 audits. It shows that Novopay has caused significant delays in auditing school accounts and caused an extra $1.5 million in auditing costs.
Ian Leckie says he’s not surprised by the auditor general’s report.
“Novopay is continuing to cause ongoing issues for schools and this is diverting attention away from providing kids with education.”
It is astounding the list of wrongs done to the Kiwi education system in a few short years. I’m not exaggerating – it is just beyond belief. To the point that when I try to think of it all, my head hurts and a thousand conflicting issues start fighting for prominence rendering me unable to sort through the spaghetti of information and in need of a big glass of Wild Side feijoa cider.
I live and breathe this stuff, and if I find it bewildering I can only imagine what it does to the average parent or teacher, grandparent or support staff.
So I am truly grateful that Local Bodies today published a post listing the long list of things public education has had thrown at it since National came to power.
This is the list. It needs to be read then discussed with friends, colleagues, family, teachers, students, MPs and the guy on the train. Because this is it – this is what has been thrown at education in a few short years. It is no overstatement to say that New Zealand Public education is under attack.
Take a breath, and read on:
A National led Government was elected and New Zealand’s public education system came under heavy attack:
You can add to the list the change to teacher training that allows teachers to train in 6 weeks in the school holidays and then train on the job in one school without varied practicums, just as Teach For America does to bring in low cost, short term, untrained ‘teachers’. (Coincidentally great for charter schools, especially those running for profit.)
The full Local Bodies article is here. It is well worth sharing and discussing (share the original, not this – the full article is better)
Please be aware that what has already gone on is just the preamble to far more extensive measures getting increasing more about Milton Friedman’s “free market” than about good, equal, free public education for all.
Unless you want NZ to descend into the horrors being seen now in England and the United States, you need to act. How?
Because three more years like this and the list above will look like child’s play.
Many long-suffering school staff will be infuriated by today’s announcement of planned changes to Novopay before immediate issues have been resolved.
NZEI Te Riu Roa spokesman Andrew Casidy said the ministry was trying to paint the front of the house while the back of the house was on fire.
“Staff continue to be underpaid, overpaid and unpaid and frustrated at the hours being spent fixing their problems. Resources need to go into fixes and training of service staff now. It’s staggering that $33 million has been spent fixing this system, with another $10 million projected by June, but it’s still a lemon.”
“Just this week, NZEI’s random phone survey of 30 schools found more than 80 per cent of schools having major problems with Novopay. We need immediate solutions to current issues, not ‘planned changes in the next six months,’” he said.
NZEI has been a member of an advisory group giving input to the ministry’s Preferred Service Delivery Model for Novopay. NZEI had previously informed the group that the resources and time spend on devising a future model must be immediately focussed on addressing the problems in the current delivery service.
At this morning’s final meeting of the advisory group, NZEI tabled a document stating that it “cannot support further promotion and resourcing of the ‘Preferred Service Delivery Model’ while there is insufficient focus and resources put into addressing the immediate problems with the current flawed system…Payroll processing has to improve before the sector can engage, not least because the level of frustration and lack of trust at the school level is now at dangerous levels.”
The Novopay system continues to fail hardworking school support staff, teachers and principals, NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter said today.
The year’s first pay cycle earlier this month had a considerably higher error rate than pay cycles last year, which Minister Steven Joyce blamed on data entry errors and the complexity of the school payroll.
However, this week’s principal payment error clearly lies with Novopay and its software systems.
Mr Goulter says the school payroll is no more complex this year than last year.
“The fact is that Novopay is not delivering and causing huge stress especially for school support staff who act as payroll officers.
“No matter how much the Minister promotes self-service on-line and a help desk, the system itself is so flawed that it is causing unprecedented problems, stress, time and money.
“The Ministry of Education cannot be seen as a good employer if this situation continues. The school workforce has been patient for more than a year, but that patience is fast running out.”
Getting up at 5.50am and dragging myself and my 4 year old off to stand outside Hekia Parata’s electorate office is not my idea of fun. Surely a stay at home mum should at least have the luxury of a lie in until, say, 6.45?
But sometime you just have to do what you have to do, so today I inched myself out of bed, one eye closed, and shuffled into the shower.
People deserve to be paid correctly for the work they do
– school staff are not being paid, or they are underpaid, and in some cases overpaid. All of that is a nightmare for families trying to budget – it’s not just wages – wrong payment affect so much more. It sounds fabulous to be overpaid – but you are then left trying to repay the right amount and sort out all of the repercussions for tax, benefits, Kiwisaver and lord only knows what else, just like those who were underpaid or not paid. The whole thing is right royal mess.
Staff that are wrongly paid spend hours on the phone to banks trying to juggle payments here and there, missing out on their early repayment bonuses for the electricity and so on, all adding to more stress and more mental energy taken out of the classroom.
Admin staff and school management are working ridiculous hours trying to get errors sorted. They have the stress of sorting out each and every mistake that Novopay has made, knowing that teachers, caretakers, teacher aids and the whole body of staff are relying on them to help sort it out. That’s one hell of a lot to have on your shoulders.
Shonky system and poor support services
Sorting out the errors is a farce, with hours waiting on the phone and endless paperwork. Did you know that Novopay is so badly build that schools staff cannot enter information online – it has to be done on paper, submitted and entered by Novopay staff… leading to even more errors and delays. Really, is this the same world where we can take a picture at a cafe and upload it to umpteen places within seconds? The same world where we can have online conferences, live, and can do our banking from our phone, tablet or computer? Seriously, what kind of outfit is Talent2 that its system doesn’t allow information to be input and uploaded by schools online? They deserve to go out of business for this shambles.
Joyce’s platitudes suck kumera
And while Steven Joyce trumpets that no teacher should be left unpaid, what he fails to point out is that processing the emergency payments, too, takes time and a lot of hard work for staff. And when those payments come out of a school’s operational budget then there are financial knock on effects there, too.
Schools need emergency payments to cover the hours staff are working to sort this out.
Queries should be answered within hours not weeks.
Errors should be corrected within days, not months.
This whole thing is a farce.
Below is a list of the protests I know of at this stage.
PLEASE support the protest even if you are being paid correctly. Your colleagues need to see they are supported – Government need to see we stand together and this needs to be remedies ASAP.
For more details of events, or to ask questions, go to the facebook event page here.
You can check the latest list on the NZEI page, too.
WHANGAREI Phil Heatley MPs office, Deveron St 7am-7.50am
HELENSVILLE/KAIPARA John Key 365 State Highway, Kaipara 7am
NORTH SHORE outside Target Rd School, Target Rd 7am
NORTH SHORE Maggie Barry 15 Anzac Ave, Takapuna 7am
WEST AUCKLAND Paula Bennett 429 Great North Road, Henderson 7am-8am
MANUREWA Cam Calder MP office, 4 Station Rd, Manurewa 7am
TE AWAMUTU Shane Ardern 25 Roach St, Te Awamutu7am 7am
THAMES Scott Simpson MPs office 7.30am
CAMBRIDGE Louise Upston 71 Duke St, Cambridge 7.30am
NAPIER Chris Tremain MPs office, Station Rd, Napier 7.15am
HASTINGS Craig Foss MPs office, King Street, Hastings 715am
NEW PLYMOUTH Jonathon Young MPs office, cnr Gill and Liardet Sts 7.30am-8.15
WHANGANUI Chester Borrows marching through the Avenue to MPs office 3.30pm
GISBORNE Anne Tolley MPs Office 7.15
WAIROA Anne Tolley Wairoa Bridge 7.00-8.00am
WAIRARAPA John Hayes MPs office, 82 Queen St, Masterton 7.15
PARAPARAUMU Nathan Guy 23 Amohia St, Paraparaumu 7.15
PORIRUA Hekia Parata MPs office, 20 Parumoana St, Porirua Central 7.15am
OHARIU Katrina Shanks/Peter Dunne Shanks office, 2 Broderick Rd, Johnsonville, then walking to Dunne’s office 7.15am
UPPER HUTT Trentham Railway Station carpark 7.15
LOWER HUTT Melling Railway Station carpark 7.15
WAINUIOMATA Top of Wainuiomata Hill 7:15
WELLINGTON Chris Finlayson Level 7, 32-43 Kent Tce, Wgtn 7:15
NELSON Nick Smith Waimea: Crossing outside St Pauls/Waimea College 7am
NELSON Nayland: Crossing outside Nayland College, Broadgreen and Nayland Kindergarten
NELSON Nelson City: Crossing outside Hampden St School
CHRISTCHURCH Kate Wilkinson 365 Main Rd, Redwood 7.30am
CHRISTCHURCH Nicky Wagner MPs office 103 Salisbury St 8013 (between Durham and Colombo)
RANGIORA Kate Wilkinson cnr Queen and Percival Sts 7am
TIMARU Jo Goodhew 139 Staford St, Timaru 7am
GORE Bill English Main St 7am
DUNEDIN Michael Woodhouse Mojos, Cnr Princes and Jetty St 7am
INVERCARGILL Eric Roy MPs office, Dee St, Invercargill 7am
I will be at the Porirua one with my wee boy – feel free to come say hello!
NZEI is meeting with the Secretary of Education and other stakeholders fortnightly after each pay day. We will update you each pay period via this newsletter and suggest what you can do to help – we need to keep the pressure on the government to make resolution of Novopay a top priority!
The Novopay system is an even bigger mess today than it was last week
NZEI is pushing as hard as possible for the system to be fixed – speedily!
We have demanded a support package for schools be developed that recognises the immediate workload issues, poor resolution processes and stress school staff are facing.
We’re pleased to tell you that yesterday (21 February) the Secretary of Education agreed to work with us to develop an interim package of measures.
There are many things that need to be done and discussions will continue on that long list but responding to your concerns and frustrations, we’ve asked that an immediate package of measures include:
A swift positive response from the Ministry of Education to these requests would show good will as well as offer practical support for schools. We’ll update you on this as soon as possible.
What you can do
If you’ve been affected by pay problems, help us put pressure on the government to get staffing and service levels at Novopay right. Please email Novopay Minister Stephen Joyce email@example.com with a copy to NZEI at firstname.lastname@example.org . Ask the Minister to ensure that staffing levels are sufficient to make sure payrolls are processed in time from now on.
If you have had a serious underpayment and need money, your school should contact the Ministry on 0800 663 772 to request an urgent manual payment. If this is proving difficult to achieve, call 0800 NZEI HELP and we’ll assist you.
Your Board via the principal has a legal obligation to ensure you are not left in difficult financial circumstances. This includes the school making a direct payment to you and claiming it back from the Ministry if usual channels don’t work.
“TVNZ and Radio New Zealand have done a couple of stories reporting on the leaked Briefing to the Incoming Minister (BIM) which the Ministry of Education supplied to Steven Joyce about the Novopay debacle.
They’ve focused on the Ministry’s warning that Novopay could take 1-2 years to get working properly.
I’ve also received a copy of this document, and I was more interested in the Ministry’s summary of what actually went wrong……”
Read more …
Minister gives update on Novopay
Thursday, 31 January 2013, 1:10 pm
Hon Steven Joyce
Minister with responsibility for Novopay
31 January 2013 Media Statement
Minister gives update on Novopay
Minister with responsibility for Novopay Steven Joyce today provided an update on Novopay and announced measures to address the situation.
“Novopay is one of the largest payroll systems in Australasia covering approximately 110,000 people and 15 separate collective agreements. After meeting with the key parties involved over the past week, it is clear the issues it has are complex, that there is no quick fix, and problems will continue for some time,” Mr Joyce says.
“Next week’s pay round covers the beginning of the school year and the Ministry of Education and Talent2 are expecting further issues particularly with the start of a new secondary school teachers’ collective agreement.
“I have made it clear to all parties that the on-going issues with Novopay are unacceptable and new measures are being put in place to provide timely solutions.”
The new measures include:
• Conducting a technical audit of the stability of the Novopay system and the data contained in it
o Technical review by Murray Jack of Deloitte, incorporating the results of the audit currently being undertaken by Ernst & Young on behalf of the Ministry of Education and an accelerated audit of a sample of schools.
• Instituting a new Novopay Remediation Plan
o Led by the Novopay Management Board
o Will accelerate software stabilisation, monitoring and enhancements and improve customer service
o Will involve more resources, which the Government will initially provide on a contingency basis while reserving its contractual position with Talent2.
• Undertaking active sector re-engagement
o Led by the acting Secretary of Education and the Ministry of Education
o Will use the Ministry’s regional network to support schools, document their feedback and provide them with more information and training
o Revitalise a reference group, chaired by the acting Secretary, which will include senior members of education sector bodies to ensure on-going sector engagement and input into system enhancements.
• Investigating a revised Contingency Plan
o Led by the acting Secretary of Education who has commenced dialogue with previous supplier, Datacom.
• Establish a Ministerial Inquiry
o Going to Cabinet on Monday
o Intention is for the findings of the Technical Review to be fed into the inquiry, and for the inquiry to cover all aspects of the teacher payroll system from outset to present day.
o More details will follow next week.
“I appreciate the issues with Novopay are hugely frustrating for those affected and I understand the pressures school pay roll staff are under. I can assure them that everything is being done to resolve the issues as quickly as possible,” Mr Joyce says.
Steven Joyce today announced that Novopay will stay.
No real information given beyond that. No details of why Novopay get to stay or whether they have been penalised.
I’ll share more as it breaks.
Full press release here.
Just how utterly incompetent (not to mention offensively rude) (oh and dodgy) does someone have to be to be ousted into the netherworld by John Key?
Oh wait, they have kept Banksy around, so that answers that question.
Seriously though, Hekia Parata has presided over a disastrous year in education. I’m not talking about policies here – I mean, any Education Minister will hit resistance not matter what, and despite me and millions of others thinking she is on the wrong track with Charter Schools and what not, I am thinking now of the way in which she has managed things.
The technology teachers/class sized debacle in May was just the start. I mean, really, how can such a huge and serious change be proposed without the facts and figures being checked? That we a total embarrassment and made the Ministry of Education looks ridiculous.
Then there was the impending closure of Salisbury School, which caters for girls with serious learning and emotional difficulties – a closure which courts ruled illegal and halted. Illegal. Get that – Hekia Parata, the Education MINISTER, is either not aware of the laws regarding school closures or is wilfully ignoring them and hoping to get away with it. Either way, it’s not a good look.
Beaten and demoralised by 2 years of quakes, apparently this was a fabulous time to propose closures and mergers of Canterbury schools. The facts are well known, but for anyone who has been on the moon or meditating for the whole of last year, just know that schools were listed as having buildings they did not have, had long jump pits listed as liquefaction, were refused requests under the Official Information Act because of advice from Hekia Parata and the Ministry urging Christchurch Council to, well, obfuscate, fudge and fib their way into NOT giving any information out. Again the courts ruled that the behaviour was … you guessed it … illegal.
STRIKE THREE FOR HEKIA.
Next bit of dodgy dealing – the way Charter Schools are being foisted on NZ. How utterly underhand to have the consultation period in the school holidays. Oh wait, didn’t they do that in Christchurch, too… it’s almost as if it was done on purpose… go figure. The panel supposedly considering whether we should have Charters, and if so, what form they they should take, is being overseen by John Banks’ bedfellow Catherine Isaacs and the panel has not one teacher, principal, or any other education expert on it. Yeah, that sounds mighty impartial to me.
So there you go… a terrible year.
Oh wait… what’s that you say…?
Did someone whisper Novapay? What? It was rolled out despite advice that it should not be? What? Errors are still in the thousands after months of being live? But Hekia fronted up and tried to sort it out, eh, so that’s something…. WHAT! She got an underling to take the flack? AND she beggared off on holiday without a by your leave? But she’s back now, eh, and sorting it ou….EH!!!! She’s still away? After a month.
Says it all, doesn’t it.
Really, just what do you have to do in the National Party to be given the boot?