How sky-rocketing cost of living affects education

The Reserve Bank increased the rate to three percent in its efforts to continue to fight inflation, which is running at a 30-year high.

While the primary education sector was struggling to deal with COVID-19 staff shortages, particularly in the pool of relievers, the rising cost-of-living is also having downstream and longer-term effects on teacher supply, warns NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford.

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Educators are leaving the bigger centres like Auckland to move to areas where housing is cheaper, placing additional pressure on principals to recruit staff as they also try to manage increasing work demands on themselves and their teachers and retain people in the profession.

“One principal in Auckland told me that he has nobody on his teaching staff under the age of 40,” Mr Rutherford said.

He’s certain that’s because a number of beginning and younger teachers have left Auckland because it’s cheaper to live outside of it.

NZEI Te Riu Roa is one of the key public sector unions seeking a unified and joint pay agreement with the Government in an effort to alleviate the rising cost of living and ongoing effects of the pandemic, following the latest rise in the official cash rate.

“We know that even the smallest interest rate rises will have an effect on members,” Mr Rutherford said.

It’s why we agreed to join the unified approach to achieve a pay increase, because our collective strength will help us get the best agreement we can.

Mr Rutherford added the rising cost of living also had ramifications for educators campaigning to reduce class sizes so that tamariki get the education they deserve, increase support for school principals and ensure greater resourcing for children with high learning needs.

“These are all long-term issues that are being exacerbated by these pressures now,” he said. 

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