Over 50 unprecedented combined meetings of 60,000 members from both the Post Primary Teachers’ Association and the New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa are being held to oppose the government’s proposal for ‘Global Funding’.
New Zealand’s educators from early childhood to secondary schooling are holding these joint meetings for the first time between 5 and 16 September, to plan a response to the government’s proposal for ‘Global Funding, or what they view as a’ return to the failed bulk funding experiment of the 1990s. The unions say this could result in fewer teachers, larger class sizes, and could impact on the quality of children’s education.
The government has also refused to explore any increase in funding for education, the unions said.
In addition, the unions warn that the government's proposed global budget idea will see “detrimental changes” to schools. The amalgamation of schools' teaching and resource allocations would lead to principals and the school board of trustees deciding where the money should go, with a compulsory amount spent on grounds work and maintenance.
NZEI: “Not robbing Peter to pay Paul”
The New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) Te Riu Roa Early Childhood Education speaker, Sandie Burn, explained that a funding freeze to early childhood education in 2011 saw similar results to what is expected from the proposed global budget.
“Our reality is that bulk funding has become a mechanism to underfund quality early childhood education,” she said. Another cut, and there have been many cuts in early childhood, is the removal of quality teaching funding of services of more than 80 percent of qualified and certificated teachers, she added.
The NZEI President Louise Green said: “We saw no benefits for children in this policy, only the potential for school budgets to be squeezed and forced trade-offs between costs of teaching staff and school running costs.” She called for the ‘global funding’ mechanism to be scrapped.
The Minister has asked the education sector for feedback and the response is clear, she said, underlining that teachers now ask that this proposal not be forced on a sector that has emphatically rejected it.
Green went on to say that education unions cannot support any funding system “that leads to trading off teachers for other running costs, or increasing competition for enrolment” and are “hugely sceptical of the so-called ‘per child’ funding proposal and have placed strong caveats on this going forward for further development”.
Ultimately, she stressed, to improve outcomes for our children, there needs to be better funding for schools and early education, “not robbing Peter to pay Paul by just moving funding around”.
PPTA: Rare opportunity to resource education
The Nelson/West Coast Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) executive Ellen Curnow also said that the proposed changes to school funding were “radical” and posed a “massive risk” to teachers' job security and the quality of education.
Her union had been asking for changes in education funding for a long time, she highlighted, saying that “parents and educators agree that we need to increase investment in teaching and in learning”.
The review of education funding is “a once in a generation opportunity to resource education” so that all children and young people get the best possible teaching and learning, she observed.
Curnow said it was important to note the Government's claim that there would be no decrease to the total amount of education funding, and that changes will come from redistributing existing funds.
She expressed concern that rising student numbers coupled with a global budget meant schools would have “no guarantee of a minimum number of teachers to be paid for”.
Teachers and support staff gathering at Nelson College hall against government funding plans:
PPTA President Angela Roberts announcing unprecedented joint action on Government funding proposals: