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Just what are primary school teachers asking for? And what has Ministry offered?

This week, NZEI teacher members rejected the Ministry of Education’s second pay and conditions offer and voted to go on strike again. But what is it they want? And what’s been offered?

What we want:

  • SENCO –  A Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO) for every school, so that children with additional needs have a dedicated expert. This job is almost always tacked onto the roles of teachers already busy with many responsibilities, and so doesn’t always get the dedicated attention it needs.
  • RELEASE TIME – Significant increases to release time so that teachers can complete assessment properly and have time to discuss and interpret the data they gather. Two days per term is just not enough to do all of this.
  • PAY – 16% increase over the course of a two year agreement.
  • PAY PARITY – A renewal of the pay parity clauses so that primary teachers aren’t worse off than high school teachers.
  • SALARY CAP – Remove the qualification-based salary cap so that teachers are no longer unfairly penalised for having trained under the earlier Diploma system and can move up the entire pay scale with experience as other teachers do.

What Ministry has offered:

  • SENCO – Nothing! 
  • RELEASE TIME – Nothing! (In the first offer, Ministry offered addition release equal to 12 minutes’ release per week, but that was withdrawn in the 2nd offer).
  • PAY – 3% per year over a three year agreement.
  • PAY PARITY – Agreed to renew the pay parity clause.
  • SALARY CAP – Allow only one additional step for those teachers affected by the cap.

As you can see, what was asked for and what has been offered aren’t even close to each other. Only one condition was met as asked for, and that is the Pay Parity clause. Dedicated SENCOs to support students with special educational needs are not in Ministry’s offer, miserly release time in the first offer was withdrawn in the second offer, and the pay offer is less than asked for and over a longer period, and Diploma-trained teachers continue to get paid far less than their colleagues despite having the most experience (and often being team leaders, senior staff, and the ones that train new teachers)!

When we are hundreds of teachers short for next year, and we know we will be thousands of teachers short within a couple of years, you’d think Ministry would listen to teachers and make the job more manageable and attractive so that we keep the teachers we already have and attract new ones.  But no.

Something’s got to give: Strike action dates and information can be found here.

If you want to see in full what NZEI teacher members are asking for and what was offered by Ministry, look here.

~ Dianne

 

Legal action over Novopay support staff annualisation – NZEI

nzei logoPRESS RELEASE:

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.

– END

Would you be a teacher?

PPTA pay memeHekia Parata says that teaching needs to be higher on people’s preferential list of jobs, and I agree with her.

I am unclear, though, how  treating teachers like miscreants that need rules, rules, rules to keep them in place, and forcing teachers to use practices and systems they do not agree with (and which know research does not support) makes teaching something job-seekers would put high on their list.

That and the fact you can get more for working 9-5 in an office than you do for teaching…

  • A teacher’s starting pay can be as low as $35k.
  • A quick look through Seek today shows basic admin jobs paid at $20/hour, which works out at over $41k a year.  For basic admin.

It hardly puts the job up there with lawyer or doctor in the status stakes, does it?

If Hekia is serious about her wish for people to think of teaching as a high status profession, and this isn’t just rhetoric, then she has a lot of work to do to redress the damage already done and ensure teachers are paid, treated and seen as the professionals they are.

~ Dianne

Novopay’s end must not be bulk funding’s beginning – Metiria Turei

novopayThe end of the disastrous Novopay system must not serve as a stalking horse for the next big threat National poses to schools – the bulk funding of teacher salaries, the Green Party said today.

“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.

Two years on – Novopay continues to suck money from schools – NZEI

It appears the government has earmarked millions of dollars this year for Novopay remedial work, says the NZEI.

rob peter to pay paulCosts 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.”

Parents support teacher strike

teachers on strikeThis is the text of an actual letter sent to a primary head teacher in England, in response to a notice sent home to parents informing them of an impending strike action.

“Thank you for the letter re the NUT industrial action on the 26th March. Please do not feel the need to apologise for any inconvenience, as we fully appreciate the reasons why the teaching staff are striking to defend quality education and their terms and conditions. As parents we understood the two issues are completely connected and have no problem at all fully supporting the action of the teachers recognising the excellent work they do all year around.

We appreciate as well, the dilemma of some staff being in the ATL union and on a personal level we would urge them to join the NUT too so they can fully participate in the industrial action, but that is of course their choice. However as parents we are not prepared to undermine the sacrifice that other teaching staff are making in their stand on the 26th at Ashmead and elsewhere. Additionally we are not satisfied that a partially opened school is fully health and safety compliant. We are therefore putting our children first before any political pressures from the town hall to keep any unsafe school open with inadequate staffing numbers.

Besides we believe for our children that the day of action will in itself be a fantastic educational opportunity to see their teachers, their mentors, engaged in an inter generational act of solidarity that protects the principles of free education and the living standards of all teaching staff.

When our children ask why this is all happening we will happily explain to them. That’s why our kids will all grow up being socially aware, politically conscious human beings and appreciate their collective power to change things for the better in society. After all that’s what a good education should be for too shouldn’t it?

[names witheld]” Source

I know so many parents in New Zealand would offer that same support, as they too have had enough of what’s going on in the name of reform.

teacher strike action England

we love teachers

Why teachers won’t be blinded by the pot of gold

The glittering $359k pay bonanza National dangled before teachers has failed to impress.  The NZEI is checking in with members about what they want from the roles, and the NZPF has called an urgent meeting with Hekia Parata to discuss mounting concerns.

This should really hit home with people.  Workers turning down money?  Saying no to the yummy carrots being dangled?  Rejecting the pot of gold? Why?

pot of goldWell, it’s simple really.  Teachers can’t see how these proposals will help students.  That’s it, pure and simple.  There is no point at all adding new positions if they aren’t going to serve the very people we are there for – the kids.

Ms Torrey of the Education Institute says the problem is that “…the ministry wants us to sort out a plan that they’ve come up with.”  In other words, it’s another pre-ordained reform and teachers were meant to be so blinded by the cash they wouldn’t ask questions.  

But they have asked question.  Teachers do that.  A lot.

Teachers asked whether the money could be used to make the more important improvements to the education system.  What about the lack of funding for special needs, they asked? What about the shoddy professional development situation?  Surely those should be considered too, before spending such a huge sum of money?

I am so grateful that teachers have stood back and asked these and other important questions.

Thankfully, teachers are quite clever folk, used to analysing ideas and situations and not taking things at face value.  (It’s kind of important to have those skills when you are in charge of helping students learn…) So, rather than rolling on a bed of dollars shouting whoopee, teachers are asking questions, demanding to make changes based on sound research and robust ideas.

However the money is spent, any new initiative must be thought through carefully, honestly and transparently by all concerned so that what is agreed upon is the best for the education system and for the students.

So, Ms Parata, thank you for the acknowledgement that education needs an injection of funds, and thank you for acknowledging that there are some amazing lead teachers out there in our schools.  I hope you listen to the concerns teachers have and understand that we want to be very sure that any proposed new roles clearly and directly benefit children’s learning.  That is what matters to teachers the most.

It’s often said that no-one goes into teaching for the money, and that’s something you really do need to take heed of.

.

Read also:

Support for caution re. Leadership proposals

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/238592/teacher-unease-emerging-about-new-plan

Hekia implies unions agree to performance pay

What the heckDuring Hekia Parata’s interview on Q+A today, Corrin Dann asks “Will National go to a full performance pay scheme in the future?”

Hekia answers (at 11.12 of video) “We already have very strong consensus from the teacher unions as well as the profession, they are on the working group, recommending the design features for this. We are very focussed on getting this implemented from 2015 and fully implemented by 2017″ 

Is she refusing to answer the question posted there, and actually continuing to talk about the new ‘super’ roles, or did she really just imply the unions are on board with performance pay? Because those are two very different things.

So, because she wasn’t clear, I need to check…

NZEI?  PPTA?  NZPF?  What are your positions on performance pay?

Because there is a loud voice from teachers that they do NOT want this.  And with good reason backed by much research.

I want to know exactly where the unions stand.

Is Hekia avoiding, evading, stretching facts, fibbing, or telling the truth?

We really do need to know.

.

Novopay – patience is fast running out

The Novopay system continues to fail hardworking school support staff, teachers and principals, NZEI National Secretary Paul Goulter said today. 

bad computerThe year’s second pay cycle this week left 350 principals underpaid a career step allowance along with reports of multiple other under-payments and errors. 

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.”

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Kiwi Kindergarten teachers celebrate bargaining breakthrough

Gandhi - you winNZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry of Education have reached a proposed settlement on a new kindergarten collective agreement that would see teachers retain parity with their primary colleagues and a new allowance for head teachers.

Last week’s sudden turnaround came after months of the ministry insisting that kindergarten teachers could have parity or the allowance, but not both.

NZEI President Judith Nowotarski said it was the commitment and engagement of almost 1500 kindergarten teachers that made the difference.

“We held a Green Day of Action across the country and rallied outside the Minister’s office last Friday. I think the Government could see that teachers were 100 per cent supportive of our bargaining position and were not willing to back down on this.

“Head teachers earn just a fraction more than other teachers, despite the increasing demands of the role. We have been asking for 10 years for head teachers to receive a small additional allowance, and teachers were not willing to back down on this again. Teachers were certainly not prepared to surrender the primary teacher parity that they fought so hard to gain.”

New Zealand Sees Country-wide Novopay Protests

Novopay protest 20130305 2Getting 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.

Why?

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.

Novopay protest 20130305 3Then there is the stress this is causing.  

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.

NZ Herald coverage

Dominion Post coverage

TVNZ News coverage

Breakfast News with Steven Joyce

Novopay Y U So Broken

 

 

5th March – Tell your MP: No more Novopain

 NZEI notice to All primary members and support staff members in secondary schools

Tuesday 5 March event outside MPs’ offices
 
Next Tuesday (5 March) marks the six month anniversary of Novopay. It’s also the next pay day for school staff.
 
It’s time to tell our elected representatives that Novopain has gone on too long. After six months of over-pay, under-pay and no-pay to thousands of members in hundreds of schools, the Government has still not shown any urgency or serious commitment to supporting schools and staff suffering huge workloads and facing financial uncertainty. Staffing and service levels at Novopay and the Ministry are still inadequate.
 
We know Novopay cannot be fixed overnight. But enough is enough.
 
While NZEI is continuing to look at legal options and engage in good faith with Novopay Minister Stephen Joyce’s sector reference group, it’s clear we need public pressure from NZEI members on local MPs if we are to make any progress in Wellington.
 
NZEI is asking all members to join together with placards outside Government MP’s office for an hour next Tuesday, March 5, to mark this date. We suggest this event takes place between 7am-8.30am to maximise public support in rush-hour and to be within media deadlines. 

 ImageGovernment MPs (National, Maori Party, ACT and United Future) are obviously the priority. If your local MP(s) are opposition party ones, please hold your picket in a prominent public place instead.  You can still ask your MP to take your message and deliver it to Stephen Joyce face to face in Parliament.

If joining the event is not feasible for you, please consider holding placards outside your school and asking parents to support schools by signing the letter to Stephen Joyce.   And please take the time to email him yourself next Tuesday at s.joyce@ministers.govt.nz with a copy to NZEI at nzei@nzei.org.nz.

Take action:

  1. Work with your worksite rep to get all staff together for a meeting and agree your plan for next Tuesday 5 March.
  2. Your local NZEI branch can help coordinate between schools to ensure a good turn out at the same place at the same time. (Email your regional NZEI officenzeinorth@nzei.org.nznzeicentral@nzei.org.nznzeisouth@nzei.org.nz  for branch contacts). You could also invite your secondary school colleagues to join you.

  3. Download the letter to Stephen Joyce to give your MP here {LINK}. Encourage as many staff and parents to sign it.
  4. Locate your MP’s local office in the phone book or find it here. Ring the MP’s office and let them know you will be hand-delivering a letter on Tuesday 5 March.
  5. Make some placards – “Toot if you support us”, “Novopay – No Pay” – view some photos from Saturday’s silent protest by Hawera and Stratford educators for inspiration if you need it!  Post your own event on Facebook too atwww.facebook.com/events/171707926310449/

  6. Let your local media know where you are going to be and why, and emailmedia@nzei.org.nz for any support and to let us know your plans so we can get national media attention too.

Visiting your MP’s office on Tuesday is a first step. The letter includes a request for a face-to face meeting so please follow this up in conjunction with your branch. At principal and primary teacher PUMs and support staff leaders’ focus groups in March and April, we will be discussing further collective action to take. Please check out your local PUM and diary it now!
 

Latest information on Novopay (from NZEI)

dollarsNovopay – What’s Happening?

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:

  • setting clear and transparent service standards for the Novopay help desk
  • the Ministry establishing regionally based positions to assist payroll administrators and individuals who are having problems that need urgent fixes
  • an extension on the deadline for school charter reporting
  • free Employee Assistance Programme support
  • a communications package that shows genuine understanding of the difficulties we are all facing and clear and concise information about where to go for assistance and what support can be expected
  • a small one-off financial payment to schools acknowledging the additional stress and the impact Novopay has created.

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 s.joyce@ministers.govt.nz with a copy to NZEI at nzei@nzei.org.nz .   Ask the Minister to ensure that staffing levels are sufficient to make sure payrolls are processed in time from now on.

Get Help
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.

Novopay Announcement

Steven Joyce today announced that Novopay will stay.

  • an inquiry will take place – to be will discussed at cabinet on Monday, including who will lead it & terms of reference
  • an audit to take place
  • longer opening hours and extra call centre staff to help deal with issues

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.

What will we come back to after the school holidays?

It’s not looking like it will be an overly restful break for most school staff this summer, and many parents and pupils will also be worrying what they will return to in 2013.

Closures

Some will be worrying that there will be no school to even return to, not least of all those in Christchurch who are facing mergers and closures, and the wonderful special needs staff at Salisbury School who are still fighting valiantly to keep their residential school open.

Fighting Back

People all over the country will be writing submissions to parliament to prevent these closures.  Parents who are worried for their children, teachers, principals and teacher  aides whoa re concerned for their students.  Kiwis concerned for their communities.

Anyone who has been following the rise of charter schools (or partnership Schools as they have been re-branded here) will be reading the Education Amendment Bill and making submissions about that, too, concerned for the devaluation of our education system by putting profits before people.

Pay

Many school staff will be worrying that they won’t be paid and that their break will be ruined by money worries and fighting bureaucracy.  It’s bad enough being paid wrongly (or not at all) in term time,  but school staff know that they will have real trouble getting pay woes sorted curing the break when school administration staff are on their holidays.  That means stressed and worried teachers, teacher aides, caretakers, admin staff, and more, all at the one time of year when a rest is paramount to fire up for another big year.

Fast-Track Teacher Training

We will return to the first batch of teachers trained on a six-week intensive course, arriving in the classroom to learn on-the-job with the bare minimum in pedagogical knowledge and less still in classroom experience.  We will be watching and waiting to see how that pans out for the trainees, the mentors and the students.

Jobs

And as always at this time of year, many are worrying about finding a job because they were on short term contracts.  Some will leave the profession – others will take their skills overseas.

And the rest…

Add to that league tables, National Standards, class sizes, performance pay, property searches, hungry students… the list goes on.

Is it too late?

Yes,t his summer, teachers will be doing more than eating pavlova on the beach,  planning and setting up their classrooms.

They will be worrying about the future of public education in New Zealand

and hoping that it’s not too late to stop the rot.

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