Primary teachers and principals have overwhelmingly rejected their latest pay offers.

A nationwide strike for primary school teachers is being proposed on May 29.

The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) today revealed the results of voting over the Ministry of Education's most recent offer to settle the collective agreements.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart said the voting results showed teachers and principals were united and resolute in their commitment to getting significantly improved pay, time and support for learning needs.

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"We will be going straight back to talk to the Government with that message – that it's time to get really serious about giving us time to teach and lead, and time to take some real steps to make teaching a viable long-term career choice," she said.

NZEI's national executive agreed over the weekend to call paid union meetings in the second week of next term (May 6-10). If there was no progress made by then, it is proposing members vote on taking partial strike action by working to rule from May 15 until a national day of strike action on May 29.

The work to rule would mean working only within 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

Stuart warned significant disruption could occur in schools next term if the Government did not focus on finding a solution quickly.

"The solution is in the Government's hands. We would all prefer to be in our schools focused on teaching and learning, but members have sent a very clear message that they want to see change now," she said.

"That's why our next step is discussions with Government to see how we can make progress."

Stuart said the new offer represented no new spending from the Government compared to the previous offers.

Ellen MacGregor-Reid, Deputy Secretary Early Learning & Student Achievement, said in a statement:

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"There has been good progress to ensure there is a supply of qualified primary school teachers to meet demand."

"There is a substantial Government education work programme underway outside the collective bargaining process, which will also address NZEI's concerns. This includes removing National Standards and nearly $500 million funding increase in Learning Support," she said.

"We remain available to negotiate with the NZEI over how the almost $700 million available to settle the primary teachers' and principals' collectives is best apportioned, and to discuss how other aspects of their claims may be considered over time."

Teacher leader Margie Askin-Jarden from Christchurch said teachers showed every day and in the most extreme circumstances that they prioritised the care and learning of children.

"But the profession truly is at breaking point," she said.

"We cannot continue to hold a broken system together because in the end the collateral damage is not just us, it is our children and their learning."

"Teachers in Christchurch know better than most that unless we get more resourcing for children with additional learning needs and address the extreme work and time pressure on teachers, we will continue to lose great teachers and struggle to attract new ones.

"That's why teachers and principals in Christchurch voted just as strongly to reject these offers as the rest of the country, and why we support action next term if it is needed."

Stuart read a statement from PPTA president Jack Boyle, who announced their support of NZEI's decision to reject the pay offer.

"We stand alongside NZEI members in seeking improved pay and working conditions for all those who work directly with our nation's children," Boyle wrote.

He said PPTA's issues were similar to those working in primary schools.

Askin-Jarden said they wanted to send a "clear message" to their members and to the Government.

"This is not the time to back down, but the time for us all to stand together and take collective action."

Russell School principal Sose Annandale, a member of the principal's negotiating team, said she rushed to make it to the press conference this morning because they were two teachers down at her school and could not find relievers.

"That's indicative of the fact that we have a massive shortage of teachers."

Stuart would not say what percentage of voters chose to reject the offer, but said it was "very, very, very clear".

"They are not ready to wrap it up ... they actually know that this is the time that we absolutely have to address these issues, not just for our membership but for the children that we actually serve."

"They are not ready to wrap it up ... they actually know that this is the time that we absolutely have to address these issues, not just for our membership but for the children that we actually serve."

Ross Intermediate teacher and leader of the primary teachers' negotiating team and NZEI vice president Liam Rutherford said the latest offer was "just not going to make a difference."

Stuart said teachers did not want to strike.

"Striking is not within the sorts of things that we love to do. We want to get this sorted and I'm sure the Government will too."

The offer which teachers rejected included two options which would either give them more classroom release time or bring part of their pay increases forward by one year.

She said the work to rule would affect a large number of things teachers involve themselves in.

"Saturday football won't be happening if we get into that space."

It would affect sports, student conferences, assessment work, taking work home, and more.

But both options have stuck to a previous offer to raise the basic pay scale by three per cent a year for three years plus add an extra step at the top of the scale and a $500 one-off payment - which the union says is only half a $1000 cash payment being offered to secondary teachers.

MacGregor-Reid earlier said the latest offer stayed within a fiscal envelope of $698 million over the four years to June 2022 - the same cost as the ministry's previous offer made in November.

She said the ministry told the union "before negotiations started that we would be staying within this amount".

The union, the NZ Educational Institute (NZEI), held the vote by electronic ballot instead of at paid union meetings, a change that was made in light of the mosque attacks.

They have already held two one-day strikes - a national strike on August 15 last year and a series of regional one-day strikes last November.

The two options being offered to primary teachers are:

• Increasing paid classroom release time from 40 hours to 50 hours a year for each fulltime-equivalent teacher for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 only; OR

• Adding a new step at the top of the pay scale in February 2020, one year earlier than offered in November.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary of early learning and student achievement Ellen MacGregor-Reid said there had been good progress to ensure there is a supply of qualified primary school teachers to meet demand.

"There is a substantial Government education work programme underway outside the collective bargaining process, which will also address NZEI's concerns," she said in a statement.

"This includes removing National Standards and nearly $500 million funding increase in Learning Support.

"We remain available to negotiate with the NZEI over how the almost $700 million available to settle the primary teachers' and principals' collectives is best apportioned, and to discuss how other aspects of their claims may be considered over time."

Under the rejected offers, more than 30,000 primary teachers would have received a three per cent pay rise every year for three years, and access to higher maximum steps in the pay scale, she said.

"As well, they were also offered the option to either bring forward access to the new top pay step by 12 months, or have extra classroom release time."

The first option would have seen 9700 primary teachers get $6973 more in their pay after 12 months, increasing to almost $10,000 after 24 months.

The second option was for 10 hours of additional classroom release time for the majority of teachers, every year for three years.

For primary principals the option offered was for at least three per cent pay rises every year for three years, along with additional classroom release time for over 600 principals of smaller schools (up to 100 students).