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Marchers take aim at living wage in schools

SARAH ROBERTS
Last updated 05:00 26/03/2014
Julie-Anne Gauld

SPEAKING OUT: NZEI Papakura branch president Julie-Anne Gauld will be marching against poverty in schools this weekend.

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Thousands of teachers, families and support staff are coming together to take action on poverty in schools.

Papakura has the highest poverty rate in the country, New Zealand Educational Institute branch president Julie-Anne Gauld says.

The Park Estate School executive officer will be joining at least 4000 people in a "living wage for learning" rally in Queen St this Saturday.

"Educators are dealing with poverty every day," Ms Gauld says.

"Children are coming to school and they haven't had breakfast or dinner the night before. How are they meant to learn?"

The rally comes in the wake of Prime Minister John Key's announcement of $359 million to boost the number of managers in schools. The investment will create four new teaching and leadership roles over the next four years.

"Everyone I have spoken to about the issue says the money the Government is throwing at a few managers could be much better spent," Ms Gauld says.

Education minister Hekia Parata says the changes are the next step in a plan to raise student achievement in schools.

The new roles will include executive principals, expert teachers, lead teachers and change principals.

"While our education system is doing a great job for many kids, on an international scale our achievement ranking has been gradually declining since the early 2000s," Ms Parata says.

But Ms Gauld says investment needs to go directly into homes and classrooms rather than millions going into highly paid roles.

"There is an army of support staff in our neighbourhood schools who work with our children for very low wages," she says.

"The Government has repeatedly rejected paying these important people a living wage."

Parents of students also need to be paid the living wage of $18.50 to stop poverty, Ms Gauld says.

"A 10-year-old said that her parents getting paid more would mean her mum being able to eat dinner with them each night.

"We are offering students breads and spreads because they don't have lunch. Yet many parents are working two jobs."

The Living Wage for Learning march will start at Queen Elizabeth Square at 11.30am this Saturday and finish at Aotea Square.

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- Papakura Courier

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