Kelly Makiha is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Teachers to down tools for union meeting

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Ngakuru Primary School principal Grant Henderson will be among teachers attending next week's meeting. PHOTO/FILE
Ngakuru Primary School principal Grant Henderson will be among teachers attending next week's meeting. PHOTO/FILE

Thousands of Rotorua school children will be affected next week when teachers stop work to meet over a controversial education funding proposal.

The Government is proposing to radically change education funding which has led to principals, teachers and support staff members from early childhood through to secondary school holding a meeting in Rotorua next week.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 14 at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre at 1.30pm.

Parents are being asked to pick up their children from school early, although not all are officially closing.

Members from local schools and the early childhood sector will join the meeting, which is to discuss a controversial "bulk funding" proposal that teachers say will result in fewer teachers and bigger class sizes.

The meeting is one of more than 50 being held nationwide from September 5-16.

The country's two major education unions, PPTA and NZEI Te Riu Roa, have called the meetings, which will involve 60,000 members and covers educators from early childhood to secondary schools.

The unions are uniting to respond to the government's "global budget" proposal - saying it would remove teacher student ratios and the protection children and teachers have around class sizes.

They will vote on their next steps at the meetings.

Rotorua Principals Assocation president and Ngakuru School principal Grant Henderson said individual schools were deciding whether to close or not.

"The union prefers all members there but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, we need our parents on our side so perhaps shutting down the schools causing parents to take time off to pick up their children is not the best way to manage them in the battle ahead."

He said his school would still operate for those unable to get their children early.

"A lot of principals have an ethical quandry over it."

Meanwhile, a joint statement from the two unions said that under the bulk funding "global budget" proposal, schools would receive all resourcing in cash and credits for staffing.

The statement said Boards of Trustees would have to make trade-offs between the number of teachers they employ and other non-teaching costs.

NZEI Te Rui Roa member and support staffer Susan Poole said the quality and skill of a teacher had a direct effect on student learning "and yet we are being asked to compromise this for less qualified staff".

Under the proposal, according to an information sheet published by the Ministry of Education, schools could decide how much of their funding to use for what were called staffing credits, and how much to use as a cash component paid in instalments to cover operational costs.

Education Minister Hekia Parata has said in a statement the new proposal was not bulk funding. She has said it was just one of seven proposals which were being discussed.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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