I don't usually comment publicly on political matters, but the recent salary negotiations between teachers and the MOE has compelled me to vocalize.
I have seen many changes across my time working in both primary and secondary sectors as both a teacher and leader, and now partnering with schools as a speaker, facilitator and coach.
Over the past 30 years I have seen increases in many aspects of the sector.
Increased administrivia has meant boxes need to be ticked, paper-work produced, and meetings held.
A rise in bureaucracy has resulted in numerous working parties and task-forces. Layers and doors to knock-on have then been added; usually with very important-sounding titles and equally as obscure acronyms.
Student needs have increased, whilst the threshold for gaining funding and support has decreased.
The dynamics of society have changed, with the finger often being pointed at schools to fix all it's woes.
Within all of this, there are the teachers and school leaders. The very nature of our role as educators means we care deeply. We care for the children we teach, the families we support, the job we do and the impact we can have on young lives. Teachers and School Principals are working themselves to the bone to do the best for their students. Lynda Stewart (President NZEI) stated "On an average people are working around 54 hours a week, but that can go up to 70 hours per week and much of that time is taken up by the additional paperwork they're having to do." An increasing amount are choosing to either leave the profession or their full-time positions; opting instead for relief teaching so they can get back to the enjoyment of teaching.
The recent offer from the government on targeted pay increases is indeed a 'slap in the face' as Liam Rutherford (NZEI lead negotiator) states. Offering salary rises averaging 4.3 per cent to 4.7 per cent per year for three years to teachers in their first three years employed is a short-term fix for a wider problem. Whilst statistics show that almost a fifth of primary school teachers and half of high school teachers quit within five years, teachers across the board are experiencing increased workloads and higher student demands.
On nearly a daily basis I am having conversations with teachers and school leaders who are questioning whether to stay in the profession. These are awesome teachers and great leaders who are swamped by the demands of the job. Interestingly some BOTs are moving to pay a living wage to all staff who are not currently receiving one. Some are also looking at what they can do to create a culture of care and raised wellbeing within their school communities.
So how is it then that our very own government cannot show the same culture of care and acknowledgement towards their employees?
Is it a matter of do as I say, not as I do?
We care, do you?