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Monday, September 25, 2023

Teachers’ strikes : Parents frustrated as more days of action announced

Frustrated parents are distressed by fears that the strike action has gone too far, that children won’t be able to “catch up” with learning and that teachers’ beliefs are underestimated.

Alistair, a parent from the southern part of the South Island, told Herald Both the Ministry of Education and the unions need to address their “problems” and “do things like grown-ups”.

“Stop Playing Educational Games”.

While he understands teachers’ thinking and says they need a raise, he thinks it’s gone too far.

“Both my kids are in high school, and it’s not just one day a week, it’s two days a week.

“So sometimes we need to pick them up, and when you live far from the school, I travel a lot.”

Year 2 students will be sent home every day from next week.
Year 2 students will be sent home every day from next week.

Secondary school teachers have voted overwhelmingly to reject the Education Ministry’s latest proposal for a collective agreement and are on strike again.

While voting on the latest proposals, union members also voted for further strike action for the remainder of term two over the next three weeks.

This time around, students from both grades will be home in shifts each day.

Alister said he is also concerned that some interscholastic sports will be canceled.

“I don’t mean disrespectful, but my kids are not going to be rocket scientists.

“These kids have one chance at that and then, you know, especially in the last few years of Covid, some of them are done and you start feeling sorry for them because they don’t get another chance.”

another parent told Herald Despite her great disappointment and frustration, she has deep sympathy for teachers who she feels are undervalued.

“In my personal opinion, the ministry really needs to come to the party and meet the requirements.”

The Auckland mum said she believed teachers had the children’s best interests at heart and were “in a dilemma”.

“But when I look at my kids in person, they lost so much school this year. You know, we’ve had floods, hurricanes, and it felt like every opportunity that was close at hand would have a teacher’s day, or, you know, Public holidays or something.”

She said the strike would mean children would be limited to one maths lesson a week in a matter of weeks and she feared children would not be able to catch up.

“I think the teachers must also be very stressed and nervous about their studies because they’ve got all the syllabus they have to cover and they’re really running out of time and I don’t know how they’ll catch up .”

Primary school teachers have been rejected after voting this week to accept the latest proposal for a collective agreement from the Ministry of Education.

It follows a lengthy negotiation campaign that has included the largest education strike in the country’s history.

New Zealand Secondary Principals Association president Vaughan Couillault said principals across the country felt it was “very unfortunate” that a resolution had not been reached and strike action was continuing.

“Obviously, when you have collective bargaining there, there are two sides. It’s not just teachers who are refusing raises, there are two sides to collective bargaining.”

He said his daughter will only be at school three out of five days next week.

“We all know that we’ve had problems with time out outside of class in the past that lead to poor student performance. So, the more time students spend in class, the better their chances of success.”

He said the strike would also affect the flow of courses and in some cases may require courses to remove some content.

“In NCEA qualifications, for those high school students, there is a little bit of flexibility to accommodate this kind of thing. But teachers and students will find it challenging to complete the courses they enroll in at the beginning of the year.”

He said there were 400 principals, with varying opinions, but said they were “all frustrated” that negotiations had not yet been resolved.

“This frustration will arise for different reasons, some with support and some not. But in essence, the end result is that we all want teachers to do their job, not strike.”

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PPTA Te Wehengarua acting chairman Chris Abercrombie said staffing and other conditions needed to be improved to allow secondary school teachers to focus on teaching.

“Our members are increasingly frustrated that demands for teachers have exploded, many on the verge of leaving, but the government has not acknowledged this in its proposals to us.”

Department of Education general manager employment relations Mark Williamson said it was disappointing that the secondary school teacher’s offer had not been accepted.

“The proposal rejected by secondary teachers balances the need to attract and retain early-career teachers with equitable growth for experienced teachers, while also addressing the union’s priorities for improving other conditions.”

The offer includes immediate one-time payments of up to $5,210 to support teachers, Williamson said.

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