The two teacher unions PPTA and NZEI Te Riu Roa have announced their intention to hold combined meetings of their 60,000 members in response to the government’s “global funding” proposal.
The unions have described the proposal as “a return to the failed bulk funding experiment of the 1990s” and say it will lead to fewer teachers and larger classes.
However, Ministry of Education Secretary Katrina Casey denies this.
“A return to bulk funding, as understood in the 1990s, is not being explored. There is in no way a hidden agenda to reduce teacher conditions,” says Casey.
“What we have been exploring with the global budget concept is a way of enabling schools to have more flexibility to use the resources they receive, to support the progression and achievement of all children.”
She says she’s disappointed with the unions’ mischaracterisation of the Funding Systems Review work being undertaken by the Government, the Ministry and the Advisory Group, which includes both unions.
The unions are concerned that under the global budget proposal all staffing and school operational funding would be delivered to schools on a per-student basis in the form of cash and “credits” for staffing. They argue this would put Boards of Trustees in the difficult position of making trade-offs between the number of teachers they employ and other non-teaching costs of running a school.
“This proposal would result in parents on school boards being forced to do the government’s dirty work the moment the budget gets squeezed. The complexities of juggling credits would also undermine the board focus on improving children’s learning,” said PPTA president Angela Roberts.
NZEI president Louise Green said early childhood education and support staff had suffered under a form of bulk funding for many years and to extend that across the sector would be disastrous.
The announcement for the unions to band together on this issue was made today at a joint media conference at Wellington Girls’ High School. The union meetings will be held around the country between 5 and 16 September.
Meanwhile Katrina Casey emphasises that the funding review is still underway with seven proposals under discussion.
“No decisions have yet been made – in fact the discussions about these Funding Review proposals haven’t even finished yet. Once they do we will take into account all the views expressed before providing advice to the Minister,” she says.