School pay plea

The Tribune (NZ) - - COMMUNITY COOKBOOK -

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.

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