School pay plea
Backing school support staff should be a concern for all parents, not just those of special needs children, Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway says.
‘‘Every parent has an interest in us providing high-quality support for children with special needs, because it has an impact on the learning of every child who’s sharing the classroom.’’
The Labour MP spent part of his day at Palmerston North’s Central Normal School on Monday, working with support staff to learn about their jobs.
He was presented with a petition signed by 47,466 people, which he will give to education minister Nikki Kaye, asking her to consider unfreezing schools’ operations grants so support staff can be ‘‘paid fairly and have sure work’’.
The Ministry of Education is in negotiations with unions to renew the Support Staff in Schools’ Collective Agreement. It follows a landmark $2 billion pay-equity settlement for care workers announced by the Government in April.
Lees-Galloway said support staff had a tough job that required an ‘‘astonishing’’ amount of patience, understanding and empathy.
Central Normal School assistant principal Kerry Howard said the current system does not give them a fair deal.