Work­load is the big­gest prob­lem


It was work­load, work­load and work­load is­sues which were forc­ing pri­mary teach­ers to take rolling strike ac­tion around New Zealand all last week ac­cord­ing to teach­ers who met in Dan­nevirke.

A meet­ing of over 80 lo­cal teach­ers at The Hub on Tues­day in Dan­nevirke went on far longer than was ex­pected as teach­ers vented their frus­tra­tions about the cur­rent cri­sis they say is fac­ing their pro­fes­sion.

Chaired by Paul Nees, NZEI prin­ci­pal sup­port of­fi­cer for the south­ern half of the North Is­land, they de­bated the is­sues be­fore vot­ing on the lat­est govern­ment of­fer.

Then they marched, seek­ing and re­ceiv­ing strong lo­cal and mo­torist sup­port.

The teach­ers say there are many is­sues, but there are five ma­jor con­cerns:

■ Teacher short­ages lead­ing to over­sized classes.

■ A lack of fund­ing for sup­port staff to help cope with in­creas­ing num­bers of chil­dren ex­pe­ri­enc­ing learn­ing and be­havioural dif­fi­cul­ties.

■ In­creas­ing ex­pec­ta­tions from govern­ment to carry out the pa­per­work.

■ Min­i­mal re­lief time for teach­ers to carry out prepa­ra­tion and as­sess­ment.

■ Un­der­fund­ing of re­sources for class­rooms.

The teach­ers say th­ese are lead­ing to se­ri­ous burnout is­sues and teach­ers leav­ing the pro­fes­sion or drop­ping to part­time, while re­cruit­ment for new teach­ers is so low uni­ver­si­ties are clos­ing some of their cour­ses.

‘We are not just teach­ers. We are so­cial work­ers, nurses, ther­a­pists, providers of food ’ and re­sources. TARARUA TEACHER

Pay grabs the head­lines but apart from at­tract­ing new teach­ers into the pro­fes­sion they say it is not as im­por­tant to teach­ers as re­duc­ing the work­load and con­se­quent stress lev­els.

“We are pas­sion­ate about teaching your chil­dren, but the govern­ment is not mak­ing it easy for us,” said one teacher.

Paul Nees says ru­ral schools are the worst hit and be­ing a prin­ci­pal in a small ru­ral school is the tough­est job in ed­u­ca­tion.

He said teacher and sup­port staff re­cruit­ment is hard, time pro­vi­sion is very lim­ited and fund­ing in­ad­e­quate.

He said the cur­rent govern­ment of­fer and pre­vi­ous an­nounce­ments for ad­di­tional fund­ing are “just a drop in the ocean”.

For one teacher there was frus­tra­tion at hav­ing to take strike ac­tion when she is so busy at school.

“But we are at a turn­ing point in ed­u­ca­tion,” she said, “and we must act now.”

A group of Tararua teach­ers sum­marised their con­cerns.

“We are not just teach­ers, we are so­cial work­ers, nurses, ther­a­pists, providers of food and re­sources.

“We are too busy to do our teaching job ef­fec­tively.”

Tararua pri­mary teach­ers may ap­pear happy march­ing Dan­nevirke’s High Street on Tues­day but they were far from it at their NZEI meet­ing in The Hub just be­fore it.

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