This tag is associated with 14 posts

What does the average NZ teacher earn?

On Q&A this weekend it was said that the average teacher’s pay is $74k per year. Teachers up and down the country fainted, asking who this average teacher is!

SOSNZ would love to see what calculations were done to reach that figure, because it seems entirely unlikely to be accurate.

The NZ primary school teacher pay scale is here:

Teachers wages

Note the top for most teachers, after many years in the profession, is $70,481.

The most you can get, with a Masters, PhD or Honours Degree is $74,460.

The only way to get more than that is to take on additional responsibilities, at $4k per unit.

Given a huge number of teachers leave within the first few years, it’s unlikely that the average wage is truly $74k as was mooted on Q&A.

Mean, mode, median, smoke or mirrors – I’d love to know how that figure was arrived at.

~ Dianne

EDITED 23/8/16 11.36am to include these Tweets from Q&A:

average teacher wage tweet

I have asked Q&A whether they can get details of how that was calculated (does it include principals, specialists, RTLBs, etc?). I have also asked Tracey Martin, Chris Hipkins and Catherine Delahunty whether they might ask about it in the House. I will keep you informed.

~ Dianne


Dear Peter Hughes, we need to talk about discriminatory teacher pay scales…

Fair-unfair wagesAn open letter to Secretary for Education, Peter Hughes…

Dear Mr Hughes

I am sure you are aware that a group of devoted and experienced teachers have been receiving an appallingly unfair remuneration deal in this country for a number of years now. I am of course referring to teachers who completed their qualifications either before or during the period in which the degree qualification was phased into Teacher’s Colleges.

I’m also sure you will agree, that it reasonable that these teachers who are can often be equipped with over thirty years of experience (and that’s after completing three years of education with world-leading institutions to boot) should be able to earn the same as their equally dedicated and hard-working colleagues that have more recently graduated.

The current scheme is not just puzzlingly inequitable to a number of dedicated and expert teachers, but it also undermines the reputation of our education system. By instituting such a needlessly dichotomised strata, we are now implying that the teachers who completed qualifications during this period are not worth as much as teachers who have studied more recently. Which as you can imagine is pretty insulting to people that have dedicated their life to education.

To illustrate the issue, the following is a real life example of a teacher in this situation:

Teacher X graduated studied for three years at The University of Waikato and graduated with a Hamilton Teachers College Diploma with Commendation in 1981. She has been teaching for over 20 years and each year has completed professional development, which has been very relevant and useful and has included training in Reading Recovery, Literacy Leadership and specialised teaching in The Arts.

In a role at her previous school Ms X held a permanent unit for leading The Arts and a fixed term unit for Literacy Leadership. The permanent unit allowed her to progress to a higher pay scale, but still not to the same rate as a younger, more inexperienced teacher who also completed three years of study with the same or any other university (just at a later date when it was called a degree).

Ms X then moved to a new location due to a change in her husband’s career. She was appointed a position at a local primary school on the spot at her first interview due to her experience, expertise, and glowing references. Her new role included a unit to lead literacy with a focus on writing, but because schools have the autonomy to decide how units can be used, she discovered that all curriculum units at her new school are fixed term and therefore went back to the maximum salary on the Q1 scale ($56,177) plus the unit allowance.

You must agree that this is somewhat confusing when comparatively teachers with a three-year Bachelor of Teaching degree can earn $68,074 after only seven years in the classroom. Especially when you consider teachers in the same position as Ms X also completed three years at Teachers College. The younger teachers have done nothing wrong and should be celebrated for having the courage to undertake an increasingly thankless career that has become cynically devalued by a government looking to shift the blame for their own social failings onto their most dedicated public servants. But it simply does not make any sense whatsoever for us to divide our teachers along these lines, when they are all there for the same reasons and are all equally qualified to do this work.

I realise this is an issue that the NZEI has been attempting to address for years with no resolution in sight. The Advanced Classroom Expertise Teacher (ACET) allowance is not an appropriate resolution. While it might help a few selected teachers who are employed by schools which are supportive of the scheme, it does not really address the inequity and it will take a long time to be implemented. The other issue with the already problematic ACET allowance is that it does not help rectify the damage done to the reputation of the education system or educators who gained their qualification from this period, who received sound professional training.

The most logical and easy solution that would completely eradicate the issue would be for The Ministry of Education to simply recognise the qualifications of those in the position of Ms X, and who are still teaching, as the equivalent of the current degree credentials (which they are). I fail to see any explanation of why this has still not happened, especially considering the relatively small number of teachers this would affect in 2015.

Mr Hughes, addressing the discriminatory system for older experienced, effective and dedicated teachers who haven’t had the opportunity to complete degrees is long over-due. I strongly urge The Ministry to remember that these teachers, who despite facing substantial financial disadvantages when compared to several of their colleagues, have made a significant contributions to young lives in this country for a number of years. It is well beyond time that their professionalism, expertise, commitment and loyalty is acknowledged and rewarded accordingly.

I look forward to the day these teachers are given a fair go. In fact I look forward to the day when all teachers are given a fair go.


Bevan Morgan

It’s an epic wage rise windfall! (Spoiler – not for teachers or those on minimum wage)

With teacher pay bargaining just around the corner and politicians’ wage rises announced today, I thought I would compare the wage increases of primary school teachers and politicians over the past few years:

Very experienced primary school teacher – wages (rounded)

2006 – $56k

2015 – $66k

= increase over 9 years of $10k

Any Backbencher Politician – wages (rounded)

2007 – $126k

2015 – $156k  (plus $28k accommodation allowance)

= increase over 8 years of $30k

Slap me with a kipper and call me Arnold, but that doesn’t seem exactly fair.

Money-BagsI won’t even go into the debacle that is Novopay or the fact that some are still being paid wrongly and some are still waiting on wages owed for over a year… No, we won’t open that can of worms. Except to say that Stephen Joyce and Hekia Parata’s $268,500 a year will be rising to about $283,300 and will be paid on time.

David Seymour, parliamentary-under-secretary-for-promoting-charter-schools-at-any-cost, will get a nice 5.5% pay rise on his $175,600 a year, bringing it nearer $185,000 per year. (Mr Seymour’s wages could pay for around three teachers.)

John Key pocketed an additional $23,800 and today said of MP’s pay rises:

“The money turns up in your account. You could say, ‘Well, you could write a cheque or donate it or give it back’, but it’s just not that practical across 121 MPs.”

“What do you do when you get to the next year, and they give you another pay increase? Do we take that one and not the other one?”

Such a difficult decision, Prime Minister – how you must suffer with that one.

empty purseMeanwhile, those lucky devils like our teacher aides who are on the minimum wage were given a mind-blowing raise of 50c per hour, meaning they will not even earn $23,800 in a year….

Jeepers, people on minimum wage must be planning right now whether to spend that windfall of about $15 per week on a car or a yacht, don’t you think?

And if they can’t decide, then perhaps Hekia Parata can offer some suggestions, as I’m sure she’s been planning how best to spend her extra $283 a week. After all, it must have been a struggle getting by on just $21k a month this past year…

Where’s that kipper again?

~ Dianne

Sources and further reading:

$10k payrise tipped for Backbench MPs – Stuff

MPs get pay rise of at least $8200 – NZ Herald

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.”

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.”


This much I know about…Performance-Related Pay for Teachers

This much I know about…Performance-Related Pay for Teachers.

Pay rises for all from an ever-decreasing pot is unsustainable and this policy allows Headteachers to find a way to survive during austerity by making relatively arbitrary decisions about pay progression so that schools remain solvent. This year I am expected to provide a better education for the same number of children as we had in our school in 2010 with £450,000 less in funding.

It is possible to pare my job down to one thing: to ensure that £6.5m a year is spent in a way which provides the best education possible for the students who attract the money in the first place. Consequently I cannot afford to reward poor teaching and never have done.”

Read the rest at the link above.

via This much I know about…Performance-Related Pay for Teachers.

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.


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 with a copy to NZEI at

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  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

  6. Let your local media know where you are going to be and why, and 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 with a copy to NZEI at .   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.

The Novopay BIM – The Dim Post

“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 …

Novopay – full press release from Steven Joyce

Minister gives update on Novopay

Thursday, 31 January 2013, 1:10 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Government

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.


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.

Novopay Novapain NeverPay Nopay NoJob

Whatever way you look at it, implementation of the new Novopay system has been a seriously flawed debacle.

And with so many school staff still underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all, the Ministry of Education felt this would be a good time to…. no, not pay them… no, not help them,… no, not draft in extra help.  They decided now is a good time to cut 9 of the 23 staff jobs in payroll!


I mean… REALLY!?

Is is just me, or is this starting to look like an episode of Fawlty Towers?

Any minute now, Basil is going to run into the Beehive, shout something about a Siberian rat and then go into a dead faint face first into a Pavlova clutching an empty pay packet.

These staff are most likely working like mad to help sort out the Novopay debacle and help school staff get paid, and right at that very time when they are busiest, giving their all, and quite stressed, the government decides to incentivise them to get things done well by sacking about four fifths of them.

Yeah, that would help.

Maybe I was wrong about Fawlty Towers… I think maybe today’s debacle was brought to you by Sesame Street and the letters


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