All schools in Horowhenua will be closed next Wednesday as teachers around the country strike for better pay and conditions.

A few schools will provide supervision for students who cannot stay home that day, but no classes will be run anywhere.

Waiopehu College principal Mark Robinson said most of its teachers belong to the Post Primary Teachers' Association, which represents secondary teachers, and they will be taking part in the planned PPTA strike action that day, "So we are closed for the day."

Assistant principal Jason White from Horowhenua College said, "With many of our teachers striking we will not have enough staff on site to have the school open that day and keep everyone safe, so the school will be closed that day."


Many schools such as Manawatū College will remain open, though no regular classes will be run that day. "We will provide supervision for the students who cannot stay at home, using non-union staff," said principal Bruce McIntyre.

"Parents need to let us know the day before, at the latest, if they need their children to come to school that day."

In a historic first, teachers from the primary and secondary parts of the education sector will take to the picket lines together in an action which has the potential to affect every state-run school in New Zealand.

Fifty thousand members of the primary teachers' NZ Educational Institute (NZEI) and the PPTA are expected to strike, with rallies likely around the country.

Horowhenua regional PPTA chairman David Stout said the action was needed for a variety of important reasons and it was not only about pay.

"Now is the time to go in to bat for the profession," he said.

"We've had a Government that has done very little for education for the last nine years and the current Government has to deal with the issues in front of them."

Teachers are seeking better pay and conditions than a current $1.2 billion offer over four years from the Government, with unions saying the offer doesn't go far enough and fails to address teachers' overwhelming workloads and the need for extra resources.


Stout said schools had not been provided with the resources to cope with the number of children with emotional issues and dysfunctional families coming through the system, which was an increasingly large part of the job.

Money for training and teacher retention was also at a crisis point, he said, with significantly fewer people in teacher training than 10 years ago.

He also believed that with almost half of all teachers aged over 50, there would be a vacuum at the lower end of the profession not being filled if action wasn't taken now.
Working conditions for teachers and pay rates were also a major issue.

"We've rolled over for the last nine years on significant pay increases," he said.

"Unless [this] is dealt with soon, we face the possibility of a third-world education system and all the issues that follow on with that."

Michael Williams, president of Secondary Principals' Association, said secondary principals were largely very supportive of teachers needing to have their salary and workload woes addressed.

"I think we've seen right across that the public is generally very supportive, they
realise that teachers are not getting a good deal, despite what the minister is trying to tell everyone," he said.