Teacher unions oppose funding plan

By Liz Wylie

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Education union stop-work meeting to discuss the Government's global funding proposals for schools. PPTA and NZEI members met at the Wanganui Racecourse Eulogy lounge.
Education union stop-work meeting to discuss the Government's global funding proposals for schools. PPTA and NZEI members met at the Wanganui Racecourse Eulogy lounge.

Whanganui educators Brenda Kidd and Nina Miller spoke to a meeting of 700 teaching union members at the Wanganui Racecourse Eulogy Lounge last week.

The Better Funding, Better Learning meeting was one of 50 held on Friday.
Teachers gathered across New Zealand to address the Government's global funding proposal which would give schools a bulk allocation of funding and leaving it up to principals and headmasters to decide how much to use for paying staff.

New Zealand's two major education unions, NZ Education Institute (NZEI) and Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA), oppose the proposal.

Union executives spoke at the Whanganui meeting and Mrs Kidd, who is head teacher at Harriet Vine Kindergarten, spoke on behalf of Early Childhood Education (ECE) staff saying they, as a group, are already bulk funded.

"Every ECE service receives bulk funding or a 'global budget' where teacher staffing is included, based on a per child/per hour formula," she said.

Mrs Kidd said the current hourly funding rate is almost 50 cents less per child than it was in 2008.

"The result for ECE is that services are sticking to 80 per cent qualified teachers, which may affect the quality of care provided to children and puts extra pressure on fully qualified teachers within teams.

"Thankfully, the Wanganui Kindergarten Association supports 100 per cent qualified teachers in their kindergartens which I feel really strongly about."

Mrs Kidd said kindergartens in Whanganui have been forced to increase hours to maintain full roles and were forced to restructure staffing which included the redundancies of all teacher aides.

"So this funding system absolutely comes with a cost," she said.
"Sadly the cost affects our small learners, directly impacting on care and education."

Teacher aide and library manager at Castlecliff School, Nina Miller, spoke on behalf of school support staff.

Their group is already bulk-funded because principals must pay the staff from operational budgets which have not increased this year, she said.

"Many support staff are paid only just above the minimum wage in our predominantly female workforce," she said.

"Often support staff are the most affected when schools are forced to cut costs. There is an operations grant funding freeze for primary schools put in place by the Government this year.

"Support staff currently 'live' bulk funding and as a group we do not want to see teachers bulk funded."

Mrs Miller said it was heartening to see the education unions coming together to support better funding for the whole sector.

Mark Potter of NZEI said votes from all 50 meetings will be collated and the results will be available within the next two weeks.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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