Teachers claim win after bonding scheme extended

NZEI Te Riu Roa members are claiming a win after education minister Nikki Kaye extended the voluntary bonding scheme, available for beginner teachers in decile one schools, to every school in Auckland.

“This only happened because of the thousands of teachers who contacted NZEI and the Ministry of Education to inquire about the scheme since we revealed (last week) that the Government had kept it virtually under wraps for years,” says union president Lynda Stuart.

The voluntary bonding scheme was introduced across the country in 2009 but only 12 people had applied for it last year, as almost no principal or teacher was aware the scheme existed.

Eligible teachers get $10,500 at the end of their third year teaching at a low-decile or remote school. They get a further $3,500 at the end of their fourth and fifth years.

Ms Kaye reportedly said the scheme would be available for all new Auckland teachers from next year, but the amount of money might be slightly less.

“It’s great that the minister is looking to some solutions for the Auckland teacher shortage, but there still needs to be an additional incentive for teachers in low-decile schools which have the hardest job recruiting and retaining staff.

 “The teacher shortage is at crisis levels in Auckland, and other areas of the country. This is a complicated problem that requires a well-considered and thorough workforce plan, not knee jerk policy.

“NZEI and Auckland Primary Principals’ Association have been working with others on solutions to the crisis and we look forward to working with the Ministry and Government on a plan that will work.

“There are particular challenges in low-decile and remote schools throughout the country and we need to make sure that the learners at these schools are getting the best deal possible.”

In the last few days, more than 2,000 teachers have used NZEI’s online tool which checks whether they are likely to be eligible. Of those, 320 have asked NZEI to help them with their application. NZEI is also asking the Ministry for back-pay for the teachers who missed out through not knowing about the scheme or who missed the deadline to apply – in some case only by a matter of weeks.

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