By: Zizi Sparks

The car park at Rotorua’s Harvest Centre was full to the brim as local primary school teachers came together to vote on whether to accept the Government’s pay offer.

The meeting yesterday was one of more than 100 to be held around the country between June 18 and 29.

The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa is hosting the meetings where members will decide whether to accept or reject the pay rise and also vote on whether to hold nationwide half-day work stoppages from 1.30-4.30pm on August 15.

The results of the voting will be made public once all the meetings are completed.

Westbrook School teacher Jo Lincoln said those at the meeting had a common purpose.

“We are all here today because of our commitment to children in schools and ensuring quality education in our community and we are here for our profession.”

Rotorua teachers and principals met on Thursday to discuss pay. Photo/Ben Fraser

Lincoln said there were urgent and critical issues in education that needed to be addressed.

“We are a powerful group of professionals raising important issues facing our schools, classes and children.”

Mokoia Intermediate teacher Glen Law (right). Photo/Ben Fraser

NZEI’s claim centres around more time to teach, support for students with additional needs, workload, and pay.

The ministry had offered a pay rise ranging between 2.2 and 2.6 per cent a year for three years for most primary school teachers.

Mokoia Intermediate teacher Glen Law said the group had a lot of demands.

“We want a resourced SENCO [special education needs co-ordinator] for every school. We want to reduce the workload, raise teacher recruitment and retention,” he said.

“Our schools are in crisis – not only is there growth in student numbers there’s a 40 per cent reduction in people training to become teachers.

“We’ve been expected to cope on not enough for too long and salaries have not kept pace.”

Law said the Ministry of Education’s offer did not address concerns.

Lincoln told the teachers refusing the offer also meant indicating an intention to strike for a half day on August 15.

“It’s for us as a profession, and ultimately our children.”

Source: NZ Herald

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