2 Sep 2017

ACT promises bulk funding if schools drop union contracts

5:19 pm on 2 September 2017

The ACT Party says it would bring in bulk funding for teacher salaries, offering schools $93,000 per teacher but only if they abandon collective agreements.

ACT Party David Seymour 21 June 2017

Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

At its campaign launch this afternoon, ACT leader David Seymour said he wanted to give schools the power to decide what individual teachers earn.

The party would do this by introducing bulk funding, where schools could opt out of the centralised payroll system and collective agreements.

Schools that opted into ACT's proposed scheme would receive a teaching grant funded at $93,000 per teacher.

Mr Seymour said union collective contracts meant teachers hit maximum pay after 10 years, and schools could not reward successful teachers.

"Right now the best teachers earn the same as the worst teachers," Mr Seymour said.

"Graduates are deserting Auckland schools or deserting teaching altogether. Teachers can only earn more by taking on administrative work, and spending less time actually teaching kids."

The party said it would invest an extra $1bn into education "without cutting core government services or raising taxes".

Mr Seymour said the policy would be funded from the National government's $3.7 billion surplus.

The party also promised yesterday to increase funding for high-needs education by $315 million, set aside $25m over three years for learning support training for teachers and nearly double government funding of private schools by $40m.

The Educational Institute's (NZEI) president Lynda Stuart said ACT's policy was laughable.

"They're trying to undermine public education, the unions, and also our teachers and principals in this country."

She said it was "very out of touch with what the country needs."

"We've got a situation at the moment where we've got a teacher shortage, we've got a huge workload on our teachers. We actually really need to think about paying all of our teachers more than they are getting paid currently," Ms Stuart said.

The ACT party said schools that signed up for the scheme would not be under any obligation to use the salary scales set out in the collective agreements.

He said it would boost teachers' pay, at schools that opt in, by $20,000 on average.

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