Fed up teachers to take to the streets

Teachers who feel like they've had a gut-full are marching through Whangarei to make their voices heard.

In the face of the Novopay pay scandal and privacy breach, Christchurch school closures, the threat of charter schools and national standards, New Zealand Educational Institute has launched "Stand Up For Kids - Protect Our Schools", a series of marches and rallies around the country.

Tai Tokerau primary teachers leadership team member Jo Collyer said the rally is an opportunity for the community to show its support of the education sector in Northland.

She said there will be speakers voicing teachers' concerns and local MPs have been invited to attend.

The problems with the Novopay payroll system, the latest being a privacy breach where the personal details of staff were sent to the wrong email address, are still being felt in Northland schools, with administration staff feeling stressed and under pressure, Ms Collyer said.

The lack of proper consultation surrounding the closure and mergers of Christchurch schools were at the forefront of Northland teachers' minds as they watched the Ministry dissolve board of trustees at some Northland schools, she said.

The controversial Progress and Consistency Tool (PaCT) that the Ministry of Education is trialling in schools also has union members worried. "We feel that it is undermining us as teachers."

The tool will be used to determine the achievement levels of students, something Ms Collyer believes teachers are doing a fine job of. "We feel our opinions are the most valid, not a computer's."

NZEI is urging all teachers to approach the new online tool with "extreme caution".

The union is also concerned that data from the PaCT tool could be used to measure individual teachers, or would only focus on the statistical evaluation of schools and student performance, rather than an holistic and more individualised approach.

The PaCT programme will be rolled out at the beginning of 2014.

NZEI hopes the local communities will support their educators and turn up for their local rallies. Teachers, staff and supporters will march from Whangarei Library to Laurie Hill Park tomorrow at 11am.

- Northern Advocate

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