The Act Party’s teacher performance pay policy has attracted mixed reactions, with teachers’ union NZEI Te Riu Roa saying it is “out of touch” with what teachers want.

Act leader David Seymour has announced a “good teacher grant”, which would bulk fund schools for teacher salaries at a rate of $93,000 a teacher.

The scheme would cost $975 million. Schools that opted into it could decide which teacher was paid what. It would give schools the ability to pay good teachers as much as $120,000.

“Top graduates don’t want to start at around $50,000 and wait in line for a pay rise up to a maximum of $78,000. After that there is almost nowhere to go. Many have to go into management away from the students that need them most,” said Seymour.

The proposal was dismissed as “out of touch” by the NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart.

“For the Under-Secretary of Education, David Seymour is staggeringly out of touch with what teachers say matters to them and what public schools need, to provide children with the best education in the world,” she said.

“Mr Seymour seems unaware of the huge work that’s underway on developing a career framework for teachers. This is what they want, not for some teachers to be singled out for higher pay.

“This is also what works in the most successful education systems overseas, whose governments work with teacher unions to build workforce capability, not against them.”

Meanwhile, Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB praised the “pay good teachers more” policy, saying it would turn the teaching profession on its head.

“All work is judged on this principle. Everyone is judged on ability and contribution except for teachers … teaching talent is secondary to longevity. I mean, if you’ve been four years in the classroom the rock star gets paid the same amount as the laggard,” he said.

One correspondent, Kary, suggested there were ways other than performance-based pay to encourage former teachers back into the classroom.

“They also need to take a look at the teacher registration process. There are hundreds of ex-teachers working in other industries who could bring all sorts of valuable skills and knowledge back into the profession… The registration process means you have to tick off about 50 different criteria to be accepted back into the profession. Honestly, give me a break.

“We could so easily solve the teacher crisis by modifying the registration process into more acceptable tiers (including teaching assistants – those with a teaching certificate or similar qualification – like they have in other countries) and providing mentoring support and appraisal systems similar to those used in the business world. Education could certainly learn a lot more from the business world.”



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