Protest unites teachers

CIARA PRATT
Last updated 05:00 28/03/2014
Teachers Taking Action

TAKING ACTION: Bruce McLaren Intermediate principal Roy Lilley will be taking part in the Living Wage for Learning march this weekend.

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Hundreds of West Auckland teachers will use their feet to highlight the issue of poverty in schools this weekend.

They are expected to join thousands from the Auckland and Hamilton education communities in the Living Wage for Learning march happening on Queen St tomorrow.

The march aims to challenge the Government's $359 million education announcement which will see principals and lead teachers be paid more to lift school achievement.

NZEI West Auckland branch vice-president Meredydd Barrar says the $359 million going to managers won't make much of an impact.

"The elephant in the room is child poverty," he says.

"If a school is underachieving the reason is usually because they are serving a poor community.

"They are dealing with transient families, children that might not have enough food, parents working two jobs - those are the issues that need to be tackled before children can learn effectively."

Mr Barrar says support staff such as teacher aides working with high needs students also need to be recognised.

They are "the glue that holds the education system together" and must be paid a living wage, he says.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says New Zealand's achievement ranking internationally has been gradually declining since the early 2000s.

"We need to enhance the teaching and leadership in the system to raise achievement for five out of five young New Zealanders."

Bruce McLaren Intermediate principal Roy Lilley is the head of a decile 3 school in Henderson with a roll of 240 pupils. He and his staff will be joining the march to "give teachers a voice".

"There's no investment, it's all at the top level. Give the schools the money to spend on updating educational resources like stationery, school technology and books.

"Our teachers do a fantastic job but imagine how much better they could do it if pupils had shoes on their feet and food to eat.

"Teachers can work miracles in the classroom by they can't fix poverty."

The Living Wage for Learning march will gather at Queen Elizabeth Square at 11.30am tomorrow before the rally at Aotea Square.

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