Since their election in 2017 the current government have signalled huge reforms to our education system. Some of them have the potential to be transformational.

Initially these proposals struck a chord with the sector, with the thousands of contributors to the Korero Matauranga and with the wider public.

There was a real feeling of this being the time for the changes that were desperately needed.

The importance of education for tamariki mokopuna and for wider society, and the growing concern of students, whanau and the profession that nearly a decade of ‘squeeze and measure’ had damaged our once world beating education system, had seen the public catch on to what we had been saying for years.

In the context of teacher shortages, workload increases and glaring gaps in the provision of support for our most vulnerable learners, teachers and principals were hopeful too of a chance to be partners in the design of a better system, after years of being left to just cope with the consequences of under-resourcing and political decisions that left too many missing out.

The fundamental role teachers play in our society as the guardians of our most valuable taonga – children – was echoed in the media and in our communities. The need for a career framework that provides guaranteed opportunities to develop our skills, working conditions that support us to be the best we can be and remuneration that attracts and retains top quality people has resonated strongly with our parents and wider society…

Sadly, negotiation of the terms and conditions for teachers in both primary and secondary schools has not met those aspirations. Primary teachers took strike action twice in 2018 and the first combined strike between primary and secondary teachers is planned for the day before the Budget is released.

In recent weeks Government Ministers have repeated to anyone who will listen that they won’t prioritise any more money to resolve the dispute. Ministry officials are saying strikes are ‘unjustified’ and won’t achieve anything.

But teachers and principals are united.

In excess of 50,000 teachers and principals will be walking off the job on May the 29th.

Many parents and their children will likely join them.

Survey after survey tells the same story – parents and the wider community are right behind the teachers. They agree that we need more teachers and that we need more support for our current and future teachers – so that we can get things right for our kids.

We would far rather be doing something else – but this is too damn important.

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