Pupils take a stand for teacher aides

The Timaru Herald - - Front Page - Es­ther Ashby-Coven­try

Grantlea Downs School made a vis­ual state­ment yes­ter­day with all 361 pupils and teach­ers gath­er­ing in sup­port of teacher aides who are cam­paign­ing for fair pay.

Teacher aide Joy McGil­livray said they wanted bet­ter pay and job se­cu­rity as 90 per cent of teacher aides were earn­ing less than the liv­ing wage and were on fixed term con­tracts.

The pupils were or­gan­ised to stand in a con­fig­u­ra­tion to spell out the word ‘Fair’, and McGil­livray hoped pho­tos of the dis­play would be cir­cu­lated to raise aware­ness of the teacher aides’ plight na­tion­ally and pres­sure the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion to move more quickly in pay ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Grantlea pupils said they wanted to be part of the cam­paign.

‘‘Teacher aides are re­ally help­ful in dif­fer­ent ways and help us solve prob­lems,’’ Shi­anna Heney, 9, said.

Faliqh Faris, 11, thought the teacher aides worked as hard as ev­ery­one else, so they should be treated the same to make it fair.

The New Zealand Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute: Te Riu Roa on be­half of teacher aides and other sup­port staff mem­bers has been in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion for pay eq­uity since Oc­to­ber 2017 but had not reached a res­o­lu­tion.

Teacher aides are not re­quired to have a qual­i­fi­ca­tion, but do un­dergo reg­u­lar pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment ses­sions, and can study for them if they want to earn a higher pay rate. One per cent of teacher aides have the qual­i­fi­ca­tion or equiv­a­lent and earn be­tween $24.70 and $33.67 an hour. The majority of 72 per cent are on the $17.70 to $20.69 rate and 9 per cent are in the $20.69 to $24.70 bracket ac­cord­ing to Sup­port Staff Pro­fes­sion­als New Zealand (a pro­fes­sional sup­port group).

NZEI South Can­ter­bury core pre­sen­ta­tive Julie Lang­ford said the teacher aide sec­tor was fe­male dom­i­nated be­cause of the low pay and the role was com­par­a­tive with staff from Cor­rec­tions, Cus­toms, Youth Jus­tice work­ers and care­tak­ers who they wanted pay eq­uity with.

As well as want­ing bet­ter pay, teacher aides were push­ing for job se­cu­rity.

McGil­livray said 64 per cent of teacher aides were on a fixed term con­tract which meant they did not know if they had work from one term to the next and did not get hol­i­day pay. As far as study­ing went, she said it was hard to find a provider to study through and the re­sult was not worth the ‘‘pit­tance’’ her pay rate would in­crease by.

Two teacher aides at Glen­iti School have not or­gan­ised any events to cam­paign for fair pay but said they sup­port the oth­ers who had.

Anna Coombs and Sarah John­son have worked in the role part-time for four and eight years, re­spec­tively. They both said they loved the job and would not want the chil­dren they work with to miss out on sup­port due to any fund­ing cuts be­cause of their de­mands.

‘‘I love it, it’s my pas­sion,’’ Coombs said. The duo want job se­cu­rity ahead of fairer pay be­cause if one of their pupils left then they lost those hours. Also, as the end of the year ap­proached they have no idea what changes to their work hours they may face next year.

JOHN BISSET/STUFF

Grantlea Downs School pupils spell out ‘‘Fair’’ as they and teach­ers (fore­ground) back the New Zealand-wide fair pay claims of teacher aides.

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