PPTA reaches interim agreement

JO MOIR, HAMISH RUTHERFORD AND MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 20:12 22/08/2014

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Education

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Only a day after the country's biggest teacher union walked away from the Government's flagship education policy, secondary school teachers have agreed on an interim deal over it.

Today the Post Primary Teachers' Association, representing about 18,000 secondary school teachers, reached an interim agreement around how the teaching roles would work as part of the $359 million Investing in Educational Success initiative.

The PPTA said if further work on the initiative led to a settlement with the Government, it would still be subject to a membership vote, which would not happen to the fourth term, which begins on October 13.

Yesterday NZEI announced its members had overwhelmingly voted "no confidence'' in the policy.

The union said 70 per cent of primary teachers and principals voted in the poll, from 83 per cent of schools. A resounding 93 per cent of them voted "no confidence" in the policy.

Minister of Education Hekia Parata said PPTA had shown "good faith" throughout the process.

"This has been a critical next step in achieving progress and there is more work to be done. We will keep working with the groups that are keen to be involved in this initiative and the door remains open to other relevant parties who want to work with us.''

Earlier, Prime Minister John Key described NZEI, the union representing primary school teachers, as "a branch of the Labour Party".

He signalled he might legislate to force schools to take part in the voluntary scheme, which included greater collaboration and new teaching and leadership roles aimed at improving the quality of teaching.

Key said secondary school teachers had agreed to support it, after the PPTA representing about 18,000 secondary school teachers reached an interim agreement on how the teaching roles would work.

He claimed research showed it would make "the biggest different to your child's learning".

It was "disappointing but not surprising" to hear NZEI did not support the plan.

"A branch of the Labour Party, NZEI were against this initiative from the start, despite working with Labour on a similar proposal," Key said.

"In my view this is a situation where the union is playing politics at the time of an election as opposed to actually doing what's right for New Zealanders."

He said the only ones who would lose out from "this particular stunt" were the children. 

Key said "let's wait and see how it goes" when asked if that would lead to chaos if some schools refusing to take part in the scheme.

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But he said the government was "generally reluctant" to legislate to force schools to take part.

"It's not an option that the government would prefer to deploy."

Labour leader David Cunliffe said Key was acting in a heavy-handed manner towards the teachers unions by not ruling out legislating to over-ride them.

"He's overridden them on charter schools, he's overridden them on national standards, he's over-ridden them on Novopay and now he is overriding them on a bonus scheme that they don't want.  

"I think they've acted in a very principled manner... and I think it's shameful that the Prime Minister would consider legislation to force it on them."


- The Dominion Post

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