4 Jul 2019

Principals to boycott work with Education Ministry for six weeks

4:37 pm on 4 July 2019

Primary and intermediate school principals have agreed to a six-week boycott of all work with the Ministry of Education.

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Principals at the Ministry of Education earlier this week. Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

Members of the Educational Institute are taking the action in support of stalled collective agreement negotiations.

Principals who are NZEI Te Riu Roa members will also stop communication with the Ministry of Education and cease participation in any Minstry-led work groups, taskforces or meetings.

Earlier this week, it was warned that principals could boycott ministry-related work until they received a better offer than the one they rejected in late June.

Members of the Educational Institute hand-delivered letters to eight of the ministry's regional offices and its Wellington head office with the warnings.

They told RNZ they were unhappy the offer did not give them pay parity with secondary principals and did not stop senior teachers in large schools from being paid more than the principals of small schools.

(from left ) NZEI Te Riu Roa vice president Liam Rutherford; NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart; Russell School principal Sose Annandal.

Lynda Stuart. Photo: RNZ / Michael Cropp

Educational Institute President Lynda Stuart said in a statement on Thursday the work boycott was a reflection of the anger and concern principals had that longstanding wellbeing and workload issues hadn't been addressed, and that parity with secondary principals was not offered.

"There is a huge range of ministry work and initiatives that relies on the goodwill of principals. This action is about saying that goodwill has run out, and that principals will be focussing their attention on their schools and children until the government listens," she said.

There were a number of concerns that hadn't been addressed and pay parity was simply a matter of fairness, she said.

"The latest offer would have seen some principals in our smaller schools paid less than some teachers in larger schools. This would have a real impact on retaining and recruiting principals in rural areas and in small schools. Principals of our small and rural schools need to be valued - they deserve that and so do children."


The Ministry of Education's deputy secretary for early learning and student achievement, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, said the boycott was disappointing.

"It is disappointing that this action is being taken. However, it's reassuring that while principals will cease participation in Ministry-led activities, other school staff will not. This will reduce the impact on business-as-usual activities," Ms MacGregor-Reid said.

The offer principals rejected at the end of June was worth more than $64 million over three years and included additional staffing for the smallest schools and a commitment to continue working with the NZEI on workload, well-being and pay parity between groups of principals, she said.

The Educational Institute said it would be meeting with the Secretary for Education, Iona Holsted, this afternoon to find a resolution to the pay dispute.

From Monday 8 July there will be a ban on Educational Institute primary principal members undertaking the following work:

  • All work which is participation in any work group, taskforce, or panel which has as a member any employee of or contractor to the Ministry of Education
  • All work which is preparation for or communication about any such work group, taskforce or panel
  • All work which is the receiving or reading of any written report or evaluation prepared by or for the Ministry of Education
  • Any work which is the collecting or collating of information for the purpose of providing it to the Ministry of Education
  • All work introducing or implementing of any new Ministry of Education initiative (including any implementation of the new digital curriculum)
  • All work which is meeting or dealing with any Ministry of Education staff member or contractor who visits a school (unless the person is invited by the school)
  • All work which is participation in Ministry of Education PLD whether on line or face to face
  • All work which consists of meetings with or discussions with any employee of, or contractor to, the Ministry of Education
  • Any work which is the submitting of the 1 July 2019 roll return prior to 22 July 2019 on which date the 1 July 2019 roll return will be submitted

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