More than 500 school principals from throughout New Zealand have signed an open letter to the Government asking for the funding needed to pay schools' support staff more.
Support staff are currently in pay negotiations with the Ministry, and principals say that any pay increase needs to be met with a corresponding increase in funding. Support staff are paid out of school operations grants, which increased by 1.3 per cent in last week's Budget which principals say isn't enough to meet extra staffing costs.
“Unless schools are funded to cover any pay increase many of us will feel we have no option other than to cut back on learning resources or cut the hours of teacher aides to afford their higher rates of pay," said Lynda Stuart, President of NZEI Te Riu Roa.
Stuart has described the signing of the letter as "an unprecedented show of solidarity" for support staff.
“This demonstrates the extent of principals' concern for the teacher aides, librarians, administrators and others who are the lifeblood of schools and yet remain some of the lowest-paid people in New Zealand.
“We've signed this letter because we are extremely concerned about the impact that very low wages and low job security are having on our essential support staff and the follow on effect this has on our students.
"Children shouldn't lose time with teacher aides, or lose other resources because the Government isn't funding schools to cover the basics."