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Teachers receiving best pay offer in decades

Education Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ/Richard Tindiller.

The Government has offered primary and secondary school teachers $1.2 billion worth of pay rises and other improvements to their terms and conditions which go a considerable way towards addressing teachers’ concerns, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.

“We’ve been clear the current offers of $698 million for primary school teachers and principals and $496 million for secondary teachers are really good offers and the Government will not be increasing the total amount in this pay round,” Chris says.

“This is by far the biggest offer teachers have had in a decade.

“The Government is balancing a range of demands including mental health, poverty alleviation and chronic under funding in health which have built up over nine years under National. We are also rebuilding education after a decade of underfunding. While we recognise with our offer that improving teachers’ salaries is important, it’s only one part.

Since coming into Government 18 months ago, we have:

  •   •  committed an extra $500 million to support children with additional learning needs – the biggest increase in learning support funding for a decade. This includes resourcing for 600 learning support co-ordinators to start in schools and kura around the country in 2020 to help address workload pressures on teachers.

  •   •  reduced teacher workload by abolishing national standards.

  •   •  spent $135 million to address short to medium-term challenge of teacher shortages.

  •   •  responded to concerns from the profession by scrapping the charter school model.

  •   •  worked with the two teacher unions to establish a Joint Taskforce on Reducing Compliance to address time-consuming administration and compliance tasks for schools.

  •   •  introduced a $12 million professional support programme to help teachers get more professional support for digital technologies curriculum.

“Collectively, I am sure these initiatives will benefit those in our schools who are feeling under pressure in their jobs.

“The Coalition Government has also worked hard to rebuild the lost trust between the Government and the teaching profession. We want to build an enduring partnership with the sector, and we’re listening very carefully to teachers and principals.

“One of the first things I did as the Minister of Education was to pass legislation to restore the voices of teachers on its own professional body. We have also worked with teachers and principals to develop a long-term Education Workforce Strategy.

“We are committed to working through all the issues the teachers are raising but we can’t do it all at once.

“I know that pay is an important factor in teachers feeling valued and fulfilled in their roles.

“The current teachers’ claims would cost the Government $3.9 billion - which on a like for like basis is a third of total new Government spending in the last Budget. This is money that’s gone to health, police, and children living in poverty.

“Our offers will see most primary school teachers get a pay rise of $10,000 over the next two years.

“Even the Employment Relations Authority has described our offer to primary schools teachers and principals as “handsome and competitive”.

“We know we have a lot of catching up to do in education, but some of the issues will take time to work through,” Chris Hipkins says.

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