Teachers flood ASB Arena in historic move

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The Bay's teaching community has come together in an historic move against proposed changes to funding, with extra seating needed at ASB Arena this morning.

Thousands packed the arena at 9am today to attend a joint meeting between the education sector's biggest unions.

There are fears a Government-proposed ''global budget'' could mean parents on Boards of Trustees would have to make trade-offs between the number of teachers they employed and other non-teaching costs of running a school.

There are also concerns the proposed funding system, often referred at the meeting as bulk funding, would lead to the increased casualisation of teacher jobs and pressure to hire cheaper, less experienced teachers, undermining the quality of teaching.

The gathering created gridlock at Bay Park and Te Maunga roundabouts as teachers and school staffed flowed through the doors.

Speakers included Merivale School principal and NZEI's Jan Tinetti and Aquinas College teacher and PPTA representative Graeme Bridge.

Ms Tinetti said the meeting brought together members from NZEI, PPTA plus groups covering support staff, early childhood educators, cleaning and caretakers.

''This is the first time in history this has happened, so you can see how important it is to our members,'' Ms Tinetti said.

Extra seating was opened up for the crowd, which overwhelmed original seating plans.

Today's meeting was one of 54 held around New Zealand, with organisers moving to Rotorua this afternoon.

Ms Tinetti said there had been massive support at all the meetings she had attended so far.

Ms Tinetti said if the proposed changes went through, it would have the single biggest negative impact on public education.

''It's important that we get the message to our members, then out to the community.

"It's huge, absolutely huge. That's why we are getting the turn-outs like this. People are really, really concerned. They want to hear the facts and what can be done.

''We are protecting the interests of the children. We are professionals. We have a very good understanding of what will be good for our children, This is not about us. It's about what we can put in place to ensure our children have quality education.''

A vote will be held after the speakers to decide what the unions will do.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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