Field staff win out

By sticking together and staying strong, Ministry of Education Field Staff members have won a better collective agreement.

Field staff work in a number of roles for the ministry, mainly in special education. They are highly skilled and in high demand by educators and parents. They rejected the ministry’s initial offer, voted to take industrial action, and achieved a settlement that gives a 2% pay rise, backdated to settlement, and a way forward on workload issues.

The NZEI Te Riu Roa scholarships are back!

They offer $5000 each to two early childhood members and $5000 each to two support staff members. The scholarships were set up to:

  • assist individual members, teams or cluster members to advance their professional interests while contributing to NZEI Te Riu Roa’s objectives
  • advance the cause of education generally by building the professional status of members.

They can be used to complete a research project, complete a qualification, or attend a national or international conference. The Expression of Interest application form is available at nzei.org.nz/tka – click on the ‘scholarships’ tab – to be emailed by Friday May 6.

NZEI takes on the big guys

NZEI Te Riu Roa has joined an international coalition of pension funds and unions to challenge the world’s biggest education company.

Pearson, both publicly and privately, has been driving the privatisation agenda in education, selling high-stakes testing and assessment in the US, and off-the-shelf education systems to the developing world.

The share-owning pension funds, supported by NZEI, the American Federation of Teachers, the Canadian Teachers Federation, the Australian Education Union, and others, have put together a detailed shareholder resolution that challenges the company’s business strategy.

Pearson’s share price has collapsed by nearly 50% over the last year as high-stakes testing begins to lose favour in the US.

“Privatisation is the big issue in education globally,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Paul Goulter. “We are part of this campaign to get Pearson to review its business model because it rests on an unfounded belief in choice and competition. It leads to a philosophy of education that causes our colleagues overseas many problems, and it is encroaching here. It contributes to inequity and is detrimental to students’ learning.”

More at www.tellpearson.org

Support staff have day in court

Support staff members and their supporters met at the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) ahead of a hearing on April 7 – including former EA cover girl Abacus (winter 2015).

Members took their case after Novopay cut the fortnightly pay of 6000 support staff. Novopay, now back under Ministry of Education control, cut the fortnightly pay of staff whose earnings are annualised by 3.7%, claiming it was because there are 27 pay days in 2016 instead of the usual 26. “For many it meant losing up to $40 a week.

Families, who were already struggling, had to cut back on the likes of groceries, food and shoes for children,” says Executive Secretary Alison Gray from Fairhaven School, Te Puke. The ERA’s decision will be posted at nzei.org.nz when it is released.

Two-thirds of children who need extra support to miss out?

A secretive government review of school funding appears to be considering dumping decile funding and replacing it with a form of “social investement” that limits the funding to a relatively small group of children.

The government is looking to tag children with “at risk” criteria and allocate targeted funding accordingly. Four criteria are being suggested that relate to officially recorded factors – child abuse, a mother with no qualifications, a parent in prison, or being in a longterm beneficiary household.

But Treasury documents show that the group of “higher risk” children make up only 31% of children who “fail” in the education system, that is, only 47,346 out of 152,598 children

. Also of concern is that proposals to reform CYFs indicate resources will be taken from the ministry’s Special Education budget to focus on higher risk children. Children with somewhat lesser needs stand to have access to less resourcing, at a time when existing unmet need is overwhelming.

In the CYFS proposals, “education” will also provide “direct purchase of specialist services”, suggesting more privatisation.

UK charter Schools

The Conservative Government in the UK announced in its recent Budget that all schools will be forced to become “academies”, the equivalent of New Zealand charter schools.

They will not be required to employ qualified teachers and they will not have to follow a national curriculum.

Teachers have overwhelmingly rejected the move and are voting on whether or not to take strike action.

Ian Murch from the National Union of Teachers said the measures would see “schools stolen from their local communities”. “We will stand up for pupils, for parents and for teachers, and we will lead the campaign for sanity. We will fight the forced academisation of our schools.”