Secondary teachers vote to reject government offer

Education in New Zealand is at a crossroads, says PPTA president Jack Boyle.

Secondary teachers have voted overwhelmingly to reject the government’s offer for settlement of their collective agreement and have authorised strike action during term one, 2019.

PPTA is calling on the government to make a significantly improved offer before the start of school in 2019, one that seriously addresses the challenges that secondary teaching faces.

“Teachers do not take decisions like this lightly. We are passionate about our work and feel a responsibility to our students and their families,” PPTA president, Jack Boyle said. “We have made this decision because the government has given us no other options.

“Education in our country is at a crossroads. We face unprecedented and growing teacher shortages. Even on the government’s highly optimistic projections, New Zealand will be 2200 secondary teachers short in coming years.

“That means some young people will go through their entire school life without a qualified maths teacher, without a te reo teacher, without a tech teacher, maybe even without a proper english teacher.

“We know it’s not Jacinda Ardern’s government’s fault we are in this position – a decade of neglect and underfunding has brought us here. But, it is their responsibility to remedy it.

“We need urgent action if we are to recruit, support and retain a home-grown teaching workforce for now and into the future.”

Every solution to solve the issues the education sector was facing required money, said Boyle. “For the government to say there’s no more money is frustrating, even a failure of moral responsibility.

“If New Zealand wants a society where every child gets the time and energy from their teachers, in order to reach their potential, we must do the right thing now. A complete reset is needed.

“The government is well aware of what it can do to avoid this. It can prioritise teaching and learning, and provide the resources that are needed. If that does happens over the next couple of months, we’ll call the strike off.

“Secondary teachers are united in our desire for an education system where every child is able to reach their potential and where every teacher is supported in their work.”