21 Aug 2014

NZEI rejects key Government policy

9:18 pm on 21 August 2014

Thousands of primary school teachers and principals have rejected the Government's flagship education policy.

Members of the New Zealand Educational Institute say they do not want anything to do with the plan to pay good teachers and principals more to raise achievement across groups of schools.

Hekia Parata.

Hekia Parata. Photo: RNZ

The union said 70 percent of its teacher and principal members voted last week, and of those 93 percent have no confidence in the plan, known as Investing in Educational Success.

Asked if they wanted to negotiate a better version through their collective agreement, 73 percent said no, they reject the policy altogether.

NZEI president Judith Nowotarski said the vote is significant. "As the IES policy currently stands, it is unworkable. The Government needs to now come back and talk to us to find a better way to ensure all children succeed at school."

Ms Nowotarski said opposition to the policy is not politically motivated.

Chris Hipkins.

Chris Hipkins. Photo: LABOUR PARTY

The union said the Government needs to ditch the policy and come up with a better use for the $359 million allocated to it.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said she was disappointed with the decision but that it policy would not be dumped.

"If we're honoured to be returned for a further term of government, it is our expectation that we will be implementing from day one, term one, next year with those communities of schools who opt in to participate," she said.

Secondary principals and teachers had agreed to work with the policy, Ms Parata said.

Labour Party education spokesperson Chris Hipkins said the policy cannot go ahead.

"There is a real embarrassment for the Government and it effectively means that their flagship education policy is now dead in the water. They can't proceed with it when overwhelmingly 93 percent of the primary teaching profession have said that they're dead against it."

Teachers plainly believe there are better things to spend the Government's money on, he said.

Principals Federation president Philip Harding said teachers did not believe policy would solve their biggest problems.

Mr Harding said some people do not trust the government's intentions, others that the policy does not address the big problems facing schools such as special needs and poverty.