Support staff workers who help students with special needs at a Levin primary school staged a loud protest this week for pay equity and job security.
More than 20 support staff workers and teachers dressed in black and white outside Levin East School to bring attention to the need for a collective pay agreement for support staff, and they want ink on paper before the Christmas school holidays.
The protest had the support of school principal Rikki Sheterline, who said support staff were not getting the recognition they deserved as they played a huge role at the school.
"Support staff are the glue that holds schools together. At our school, I can tell you now, I could not do their job," he said.
"They are skilled, they are passionate, they are loyal to the students and their school and it always saddens me when I have to consider what the next year looks like for them."
"Surely fair's fair - these people deserve to be valued, to be respected, to be recompensed at a level commensurate with their skill sets and schools need funding to ensure this."
"I cannot do without my support staff and I know, like all schools in our area, I salute you for the work you do."
One support staff member, who had been with the school for 16 years, said while she was passionate about her role, there was no certainty with the job and the pay was poor.
"I love my job. I love making a difference with the children I work with," she said.
"As a support staff we are working with the most diverse, vulnerable and high-needs children every single day."
"We don't have job security or get paid in the holidays and our pay is low as it is. We need to be valued...we are asking for a collective pay agreement to be finalised before Christmas."
Levin East School had always opened its doors in an effort to accommodate students with special learning requirements.
A parent of one such pupil knew how tough it was and couldn't thank support staff enough.
"As the parent of a special needs child, your skills, patience and support are highly valued. Our children have extremely diverse needs and often challenging behaviours and their right to an education could not be fulfilled without these amazing people," she said.
"These people are integral to our lives both inside and outside the classroom. A number of them provide respite care for our children out of school, which is such a huge gift. I thank them for their commitment in often trying circumstances."
"Every child is entitled to an education and experiences - something that would be challenging for both us parents and teachers without our teacher aides."