By Belinda Hirst | Posted: Monday July 23, 2018
You will no doubt have seen or heard in the media that teachers and principals have voted for strike action on 15th August. At this stage, it is set as a half-day strike in the afternoon. However, currently, there is a ballot being undertaken for teachers and principals in the NZEI union to increase this to a full days strike to make the government take more notice. The North Otago Primary Principals Association wish to inform you of the reasons around the decision to strike. We don't take this action lightly.
Over the last nine years under the previous government, funding, special needs support and working conditions for teachers deteriorated making teaching much more difficult. We are asking for more support from government.
Children with special needs are not receiving adequate resources. This impacts on the teacher and their ability to deliver quality teaching to all the other children in the classroom.
A real concern is recruitment and retention of teachers. Schools are finding it harder to find great teachers for their schools. We are asking the government for increases to teacher salaries that will encourage people to train as teachers and to stay on as a teacher rather than seek other employment.
Projections are for an increasing shortfall of teachers as school rolls rise. The average age of teachers across the country is currently 57 and many retirements are imminent. Something needs to be done now to ensure we grow and keep a quality teaching profession.
The time to act is now and we are asking for your support as we encourage the government to look more seriously at our requests. Hopefully prior to the strike the Ministry will come back with a revised offer for us to consider and the strike action can be averted.
At Oamaru Intermediate, we have directly noticed the impacts of this long term under-resourcing and lack of teachers in our area.
· There are fewer teachers applying for positions. We have re-advertised on several occasions.
· We had many days last year where we could not employ relievers which meant buddying up classes or senior management covering classes. Both options adding to workload pressures and impacts on teaching and learning.
· Insufficient resourcing for students with special needs adds pressure in classrooms. Our Board of Trustees generously funds extra support in this area but that significantly reduces funding for other resources for students or professional development for teachers.
· Schools are not funded for their Special Education Needs Coordinator. In a school our size, that doesn’t qualify for a Guidance Counsellor or a Social Worker in Schools, this is practically a full time role and should be resourced accordingly.