Protest hits the road with bus tour

By Liz Wylie

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Regional education union advisers Cathy Keane and Graeme Whitworth were aboard the better funding bus visiting Whanganui yesterday. Photo/Stuart Munro.
Regional education union advisers Cathy Keane and Graeme Whitworth were aboard the better funding bus visiting Whanganui yesterday. Photo/Stuart Munro.

The Better Funding Roadshow bus arrived in Whanganui yesterday to spread the message that a government "global funding" proposal for schools is unacceptable.

Education unions NZEI Te Riu Roa and PPTA have united to oppose the proposal which they say will lead to fewer teachers and bigger class sizes and the loss of any nationally consistent teacher to student ratios for year levels.

They say it is also likely to lead to increased casualisation of teacher jobs which could undermine the quality of teaching, create further downwards pressure on support staff pay and remove the government's responsibility for issues such as class size and curriculum breadth.

Another concern is that global funding is likely to remove certainty about increases in funding to keep up with cost increases or population growth.

The roadshow comes after a series of stop work meetings by education staff around the country in September.

NZEI regional advisor for Whanganui, Graeme Whitworth was joined by his Palmerston North counterpart Cathy Keane and a group of NZEI members to encourage schools to have conversations with local communities and get parents and wider whanau to sign the postcards which pose questions to the Education Minister Hekia Parata.

The bus visited Tawhero, Castlecliff, Carlton, Whanganui Intermediate,Whanganui High,
Whanganui East and Keith St schools as well as stopping off at Trafalgar Square at lunch time.

When the funding review was first announced, Prime Minister John Key said the discussions were very preliminary and a new funding system "wouldn't be progressed unless the unions and other stakeholders were on board".

Education unions say the review, is a "once-in-a-generation chance" to get better funding for education and to tell the Prime Minister what we think is needed.

The roadshow also seeks to address the freeze on operational grants to schools announced in this year's budget and seek better funding for the Early Childhood Education sector which is currently bulk funded.

NZEI has wished Education Minister Hekia Parata well, following her announcement that she is leaving politics.

"Though we often disagree on the ways we want to achieve our goals - the best education for every child - it is clear that Hekia Parata has been passionate about her work in education," NZEI president Louise Green said.

Ms Green said she hopes the Minister's parting move will be to listen to the education sector and ditch her radical bulk funding proposal in favour of better funding for education.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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