Tēnā koutou katoa,
We were certainly lashed with wild and blustery weather last week. I hope you all fared well and managed to stay warm and relatively dry. Here’s hoping things settle down weather wise.
We have several rounds of contract negotiations coming up for staff over the next few months. In 2020 teacher aides won their claim for pay equity, and made some great strides in increasing pay levels, changing ways skills are assessed, and developing career pathways. The settlement now sees teacher aides fairly paid for their skills and responsibilities, which is hugely important to this largely female workforce that works with our most vulnerable learners. This year other groups of support staff will be looking to follow in their wake and negotiate for pay equity and career opportunities. Our support staff are vital in the effective running of our schools and kura, and they play a huge role in the safety and wellbeing of our ākonga. We support their negotiations, and we will keep you updated on their progress and outcomes.
For teachers, the NZEI union is about to enter into negotiations for the next three year Collective Agreement. The current three year agreement finishes at the end of this month, and the union will be focusing on several key issues in the negotiations. Fair pay discussions will be part of the bargaining, and another key part of this claim will be a call for increased primary school staffing. Staffing ratios in primary schools are far higher than we would like, and this is why the Amesbury School Board commits money towards additional teachers each year. We believe you cannot effectively personalise learning and meet students’ individual needs with the high student-teacher ratios that we are staffed on. Currently, year 2-3 students are staffed on a ratio of one teacher per 23 ākonga, and year 4-8 ākonga are staffed on a ratio of 1 kaiako per 29 students. This is the highest ratio throughout NZ education. For year 9-10 students the ratio reduces to 1 kaiako per 23.5 ākonga, for year 11 it is 1 teacher per 23 ākonga, for year 12 it is 1 kaiako per 18 students, and year 13 or above is 1 kaiako per 17 ākonga. We do not believe it is appropriate or effective to have such high ratios for our younger tamariki, and in order for our students to have their unique needs effectively met, we need to significantly reduce these ratios. This will be something Amesbury kaiako and other kaiako across the motu will be campaigning for in this latest round of negotiations.
As part of this contract negotiation process, all kaiako (teachers) who are union members must attend a paid union meeting at some point next week. In order to make this manageable, we have asked all teachers to attend their meeting on Friday 17th June. School will remain open for all ākonga, but the structure of the day will look quite different in order to provide release for teachers. School leaders and other teachers not required to attend the meeting will work together to provide cover during the meeting time.
Here’s to a successful round of negotiations in advocating for the needs of our tamariki.
Ngā mihi nui,