In an unprecedented move, four education groups representing New Zealand’s principals and teachers have announced a sector-led plan to turn around the Auckland teacher crisis.
NZEI Te Riu Roa, New Zealand Principals’ Federation, Auckland Primary Principals’ Association (APPA) and Waitakere Area Principals’ Association (WAPA) have developed a 10-point plan, and is calling on the incoming government to implement the plan by the end of this year.
“Attracting and retaining a range of great people with diverse backgrounds into teaching in Auckland must be a top priority to ensure that children’s learning doesn’t suffer,” says NZEI president Lynda Stuart.
WAPA president President Donal McLean says principals were deeply concerned that if teacher supply was not urgently addressed, many children would have their education compromised because of classroom overcrowding or lack of a permanent teacher.
The plan has two parts – making teaching a satisfying and financially viable career option, while also improving assistance for children with additional learning and behavioural needs so teachers are empowered to give the best possible education to all their students.
“If the needs of children with learning and behavioural needs continue to be neglected, we will all suffer the loss of their potential,” said APPA president Kevin Bush.
The group’s recommendations are to:
- Make class sizes smaller in low decile schools by 2020 so that teachers have more time with children.
- Write off the student loans of teachers who commit to placement in Auckland schools and other hard to staff areas for three years.
- Let teachers teach rather than spending too much time over-assessing children.
- Increase teachers’ pay.
- Investigate making affordable housing for key public sector employees a priority in Auckland housing projects.
Genuinely prioritising children with learning and behavioural needs helps all children achieve their potential. We need to do this by:
- Giving children with mental health needs access to High Health Needs (HHN) funding immediately.
- Increasing the notional hourly rate used for Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) and HHN funding – which has not changed in eight years – to $19.00 per hour so that the work and skills of people working with high needs children is valued properly.
- Committing to at least a 10 percent increase in resourcing for learning support in Budget 2018 to make up for nine years of a staffing freeze – we need a realistic level of specialist services to meet demand.
- Fund special needs coordinators (SENCOs) to meet the needs of every child in every school in Budget 2018.
- Value teacher aides and other support staff by committing to a living wage by 2019 and a 10-year strategic plan to develop the workforce.