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Teachers to stop work in protest at “disastrous” bulk funding proposal

Press Release – Better Funding
Educators from early childhood to secondary schooling are uniting to respond to the government’s latest funding proposal, saying it could result in fewer teachers and larger class sizes.

The government has also refused to explore any increase in funding for education.

PPTA and NZEI Te Riu Roa today announced they are holding combined meetings of their 60,000 members in September. The meetings are to plan a response to the government’s “global funding” proposal, which is effectively a return to the failed bulk funding experiment of the 1990s.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Louise Green and PPTA President Angela Roberts announced the nationwide Paid Union Meetings at a joint media conference at Wellington Girls’ High School today.

The education unions have never before undertaken joint meetings of this scale, involving principals, teachers and support staff from ECE to secondary. The government’s renewed attempt to propose bulk funding would mean all staffing and school operational funding would be delivered to schools on a per-student basis in the form of cash and “credits” for staffing.

This would mean parents on Boards would have to make trade offs between the number of teachers they employ and other non-teaching costs of running a school. This would incentivise:

• Fewer teachers and larger class sizes

• The loss of guaranteed minimum teacher staffing for specific year levels such as new entrants and senior secondary classes

• Increased casualisation of teacher jobs which could undermine quality of teaching

• Further downwards pressure on support staff hours and pay, which is already bulk funded through schools’ operational grants

• Removal of the government’s responsibility for issues such as class size and curriculum breadth

• Removal of certainty about increases in funding to keep up with cost increases or population growth.

Early childhood education has languished under bulk funding for many years and most services have had to make cuts, hire fewer qualified teachers and increase fees to parents. Schools would face a similar threat.

Ms Roberts said bulk funding was simply another back-door attempt to increase class sizes, which outraged parents when it was last attempted three years ago.

“This proposal would result in parents on school boards being forced to do the government’s dirty work the moment the budget gets squeezed. The complexities of juggling credits would also undermine the board focus on improving children’s learning,” she said.

Ms Green said early childhood education and support staff had suffered under a form of bulk funding for many years and to extend that across the sector would be disastrous.

“The past five years of a per-child funding freeze in ECE have forced many centres to compromise quality by reducing the number of qualified teachers. There is no reason to think bulk funding would work any differently in schools,” she said.

The Paid Union Meetings will be held around the country between 5 and 16 September, starting with Auckland Town Hall on 5 September, Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre on6 September and Christchurch’s Horncastle Arena on 7 September.

Meetings will be held at either 9am or 1.30pm to minimise disruption to teaching programmes, children and parents.

Find more details on betterfunding.org.nz.

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