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It’s time – Kua tae te wā

For the first time in many years, there is genuine optimism that the time is ripe to see teachers and principals truly valued, and released and resourced to meet the learning needs of every child. That’s why our theme for this year is “It’s time: Kua tae te wā!”

For the first time in many years, there is genuine optimism that the time is ripe to see teachers and principals truly valued, and released and resourced to meet the learning needs of every child.

After a year of increased publicity around issues of workload, difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers, underfunded schools and children with additional learning needs not being met, the wider community understands more than ever that our education system is stretched to breaking point, and they want action.

Focus groups commissioned by NZEI late last year found that people believe we need to attract more passionate and inspiring people into teaching and more money would help. They also believe that teachers are working long hours and deserve a pay rise, and children with additional learning needs aren’t getting the support they need. The public understands the issues and – by-and-large – they’re with us.

In addition, we have a new government that is making all the right noises about a form of social investment that builds a system that caters for all and invests in the future of every child.

The issues we see in education can be turned around, and 2018 is the year to do it. Our children deserve the best education in the world, and New Zealand can afford to provide it. It’s just a matter of priorities, so that’s why our theme for this year is It’s Time – Kua tae te wā.

We can free teachers to teach, and principals to lead, by providing the additional support and staff that schools need. This includes pay equity and job security for teacher aides and other support staff. And we’ll attract more people into teaching by respecting and paying them as the professionals they are.

Our work towards these goals will largely centre around settlements for the Primary Principals’ Collective Agreement (PPCA) and Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement (PTCA) that address the priority industrial and professional issues faced by members.

We’ll be holding paid union meetings around the country for principals and teachers in March. At those meetings, members will discuss their priorities for the negotiations, so it is very important that all members attend.

We’ll also be focussing on building member leadership and on member recruitment – our negotiating power is in our unity and strength of numbers!

Breakthrough won’t be dependent on a few key members taking a stand, or NZEI staff making it happen by themselves. Every member has a role to play – in standing up, speaking out, and telling anyone who will listen that finally It’s Time – Kua tae te wā.