SEVEN hundred Whanganui teachers and support staff held an extraordinary meeting yesterday and expressed their anger at proposed changes to the way they are paid.
The historic meeting - hosted by New Zealand's two major education unions, New Zealand Education Institute and Post Primary Teachers' Association - was held at Whanganui racecourse's Eulogy Lounge to address the Better Funding Better Learning proposal.
It was one of 50 being held around the country involving 60,000 members, and covering educators from early childhood to secondary schools.
The unions are uniting to respond to the Government's bulk funding "global budget" proposal which they say would remove student-teacher ratios and the protection children and teachers have around class sizes.
The Government proposal, announced in June, has suggested giving schools a bulk allocation of funding and leaving it up to principals and headmasters to decide how much of it to set aside to pay staff.
PPTA chief executive Rob Torr said the proposal was not an increased investment in teaching and learning.
"It is a redistribution of existing funds and, whatever the Government chooses to call it, we call it bulk funding."
The meeting was also to discuss the Government's refusal to increase funding for education.
The unions say this is already having an effect on the quality of teaching and learning for children, particularly in terms of special education support, early childhood education and support staff.
Under the bulk funding "global budget" proposal, schools would receive all resourcing in cash and credits for staffing.
The unions say boards of trustees would have to make trade-offs between the number of teachers they employ and other non-teaching costs.
The Education Council has also said it does not "want the changes to result in resources moving away from qualified teachers because we know that quality teaching makes the biggest positive impact on lifting the achievement of students".
After the opening presentation, the meeting closed for voting.