School-based therapists receive pay-raises

School-based therapists will receive up to a 34 percent pay-rise following decades of pay disparity due to gender-based discrimination.

Student therapists based in schools signed an equity settlement with the Ministry of Education mid-last week, receiving a pay rise of up to 34 percent.  

Much of the student-therapist workforce are women, and an investigation from the Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa has found that the workforce has been subject to gender-based pay discrimination as a result.  

Read the latest print edition of School News HERE 

New pay rates begin on May 25. Therapists will receive differing pay-increases based on their collective agreements.  

Specialist school staff covered under the Kaiārahi i te Reo and Therapists’ Collective agreement will receive raises of 24 – 34 percent, whereas speech therapists with the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement will receive an increase from 10 to almost 30 percent.  

Other staff under the Field Staff Collective Agreement will see a base salary raise of $5000 per annum.  

Around 800 workers will be affected by the agreement.  

Speaking to 1News, specialist school occupational therapist Jayshree Bhana called the settlement “major recognition” as therapists do vital work by supporting students to access the curriculum. 

“We work closely with our techers, teaching teams and our whānau and it’s looking at what sort of programmes we can put in place to best support [the students’] learning needs.”  

Physiotherapist Sara Tipper added that she hopes the settlement will attract more therapists to work in schools. 

“The nature of the work, it’s really rewarding—challenging—but I love my job. 

“Knowing that the Ministry of Education has a bit more knowledge about what our work actually is, is really good and that this is recognising the value of our work makes a difference.”  

Anna Welanyk, the Ministry of Education’s education workforce leader said that the settlement acknowledges the work therapists put in to support tamariki.  

“The settlement acknowledges both the value of the skills and experience therapists bring to their work, as well as the positive impact their work has on students, whānau and the wider community.” 

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
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