The Government must settle pay negotiations and avoid a two day teacher strike to give teachers what they deserve, ensure learning is uninterrupted and that parents aren’t having to scramble for childcare cover, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“The Government has spent a large part of its ten months in office blaming National rather than focusing on the substantive issues in education. Now it must fount up and avoid a two day strike which would have a huge impact on teachers, students and families.
“With more than 13 reviews in education and misguided spending that focussed on a $2.8 billion fees-free package, $3 billion for Shane Jones’ slush fund and huge amounts of cash for diplomats there are a range of people that are asking why the Government hasn’t been able to prioritise teachers.
“Education has fallen victim to the prioritisation of the pet projects of the Governments coalition partners and the billions of dollars given to tertiary students.
“This year’s education budget covering the compulsory sector was quite extraordinary in that it actually saw a shrinking of the percentage of the vote compared to other areas.
“Questions remain about when Education Minister Chris Hipkins put bids in for funding for a range of areas such as reducing teacher ratios and a number of other promises he hasn’t delivered on and whether they failed or whether he neglected to put the case to Cabinet at all. This information has not been released.
“There will obviously be a negotiation around pay but National firmly believes that the Government would be more likely to resolve the standoff if it makes a clear statement that they will look to reduce child teacher ratios for years four to eight.
“Chris Hipkins has refused to commit to smaller class sizes despite Labour MPs campaigning on it during the election.
“The Government had very clear signals on the upcoming negotiations and changes for the education sector and instead it prioritised everything but. Now it must face up to this and avert further strike action before it hurts students and families.”