Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Class sizes: Alliance calls for immediate discussion

The class sizes alliance met today. From left, Gary Sweeney, Paul Drummond, Ian Leckie, Patrick Walsh, Robin Duff and Rosey Mabin. Photo Audrey Young
The class sizes alliance met today. From left, Gary Sweeney, Paul Drummond, Ian Leckie, Patrick Walsh, Robin Duff and Rosey Mabin. Photo Audrey Young

An alliance of education organisations is calling for immediate talks with the Government on class sizes after meeting in Wellington today.

"We urge the Government to reverse the staffing announcements made in the Budget," NZEI president Ian Leckie said at a press conference following the meeting, "including increases in class size, and enter into immediate discussion with the joint sector leadership group on how to sustain and continually improve the quality of teaching and the achievement of students."

He said industrial action at this was ''premature."

He and other sector leaders said there was outrage in schools and community about the cuts.

Since the original Budget announcement of ratios which would have seen some schools lose up to nine full-time positions, the Government has said that no school would lose more than two full-time teaching positions over three years.

But that was not a solution Mr Leckie said.

"It might delay it a bit and then it will all happen."

The union leaders and principals present said they were willing to talk to the Government about how to make savings in the education sector.

The organisations as the meeting were:

# the primary teachers' union NZ Educational Institute, president Ian Leckie;

# the NZ Association of Intermediate and Middle Schooling, president Gary Sweeney;

# NZ School Trustees Association, president Lorraine Kerr;

# the secondary teachers' union the Post Primary Teachers Association, president Robin Duff;

# the PPTA Secondary Principals' Council;

# New Zealand Principals' Federation, president Paul Drummond;

# Secondary Principals' Association of NZ, president Patrick Walsh.

Meanwhile, Labour leader David Shearer has called on the Government to ditch its plan to increase class sizes and to stop trying to make trade-offs with our children's education.

"A moratorium just doesn't cut it, " he said.

"It's wrong to try and make trade-offs with our children's future by supposedly putting money aside to improve teacher quality at the expense of increased class sizes. This will damage our children's learning."

Labour would reverse the plan in Government.

"It's about priorities. If you're looking to save money, perhaps you don't give a private school like Wanganui Collegiate $3 million in extra funding. It's marketing itself as having smaller classes and is offering parents a fee reduction."

- NZ Herald

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