Union update: Teachers meet to discuss stretched primary schools

Primary teacher representatives across the country have begun two weeks of meetings to discuss pressing issues for schools – with extra staffing to meet the needs of children high on the agenda. 

The paid union meetings are being attended by NZEI Te Riu Roa teacher worksite representatives from each school in New Zealand. So far, a standout issue has been the need to increase staffing to meet the growing needs of children. 

Kahli Oliveira, a teacher at Gladstone School, says the effects of growing inequality and increasing numbers of children with additional learning needs mean teachers are finding it increasingly difficult to give each child the time and support they need to thrive. 

“It’s clear that schools across the country are stretched and it’s the children who are at risk of missing out. After a long and challenging year, these meetings will provide a space for teachers to share their concerns and work together to develop a plan for our next campaign” says Oliveira.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford says that many schools are at breaking point, and additional staffing is urgently needed. 

“Covid-19 has highlighted how important it is that our children learn how to build resilience and cope in a changing world. Educators play a key role in teaching these skills, but they need the time to give every child the attention they need,” says Rutherford. 

“Primary schools need smaller class sizes, more teachers and more specialist learning support. It’s that simple. These meetings will be focused on how we build a campaign to win the extra government funding we need to make that happen.”

The paid union meetings are being held across New Zealand until 6 November.

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