Kate Endri

Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour Kate Endri with children who are transitioning into school in Upper Hutt. She’s hopeful Communites of Learning will speed up work on better conditions.

Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour Kate Endri with children who are transitioning into school in Upper Hutt. She’s hopeful Communities of Learning will speed up work on better transitions.

Eight years ago, when Upper Hutt RTLBs and the Rimutaka Kindergarten Association invited expressions of interest from local schools and kindergartens to attend a session on transitions, Kate Endri expected a handful of responses. Instead, every single invitee accepted.

“We were lucky we had been able to get some funding – we hired a venue and a facilitator.” At the start, it was clear transition was seen through different lenses between the two settings. Kindergarten teachers all sat together, as did the new entrant teachers. “When the session ended at 5pm, they all got up and left.”

The steering committee surveyed both groups and found quite different expectations. At primary, the emphasis was on academic readiness while kindergarten teachers were looking holistically at the child and at dispositions. There was little shared understanding of the guiding documents or the processes of each setting.

Since then, a great deal of knowledge and work has been shared. The work has also led to better engagement with families.

“Now when we meet,” says Endri, “it’s 5.45pm and we’re reminding people that it might be time to leave. They won’t stop talking.”

She’s hopeful that with Communities of Learning, this programme on transition can take off nationally. As well, there are new projects she’d like to develop. “We’re getting calls about year 9s who aren’t coping at secondary school. That’s our next interest.”

[g1_quote author_name=”Louise Green” hide_author_image=”standard” author_description=”NZEI president 2015″ author_description_format=”%link%” align=”right” size=”m” style=”simple” template=”03″]

There was a great deal of unity about what NZEI members do want to achieve – better teaching and learning for children. But in the current political climate there is no easy way to that goal.

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Bargaining: round two

Bargaining to build better teaching and learning is underway, with phase one of the Joint Intiative completed last term.

“We made progress but there is still plenty to do to make significant improvement in the system, and that was reflected in how members voted at the end of last term,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa president Louise Green. “There was a great deal of unity about what NZEI members do want to achieve – better teaching and learning for children. But in the current political climate there is no easy way to that goal.”

While a sizeable majority of NZEI members voted in favour of the Ministry of Education’s offer on the Joint Initiative in September, the vote was not as clear as last year’s. The offer allows for the setting up of Communities of Learning, with more flexibility than the government’s model, Communities of Schools.

“The minister and the ministry have made a number of undertakings to continue to work with NZEI members to improve the Communities of Learning model, in line with expectations, around special education, support staff and Māori and Pasifika learners. They will certainly be held to account,” says Green.

The Joint Initiative changes have been rolled into existing collective agreements. Now, bargaining for new collective agreements begins. NZEI member claims are carefully constructed around building quality teaching and learning, and were strongly supported in meetings.

Primary teacher claims include a simplified pay scale, more release time to assess learning, and more support for Māori and Pasifika teachers. Principal claims look at career pathways, workload and work-life balance. Both groups seek a reasonable pay increase and provisions that secure educators’ existing right to speak out as professionals, in light of concerns about the code of conduct being developed by EDUCANZ.

“Employment law and government attitudes certainly constrain what we can achieve through bargaining. But it won’t be for lack of effort and passion that we achieve what we do,” says Green.

Information about developments in bargaining will be made available on websites and via emails to worksite reps as soon as possible