The National Government is making a guarantee that no school will lose more than two teachers as a result of policy changes in the Budget, but intermediates are still opposing staffing cuts.
Otumoetai Intermediate principal Henk Popping says he is pleased staffing concerns raised by intermediate school principals has been heard and acknowledged by the Government.
Following the first Budget announcement surrounding education, fears were circulating that schools may lose up to eight teachers.
Henk says if that was the case, then Otumoetai Intermediate would have to cut their specialist classes such as food technology and performing arts.
However, the Government has made changes to its policy and is now guaranteeing that no school will lose more than two teachers.
“Over the past few days, it has been recognised because intermediate schools have a large number of Year 7 and 8 students, they have been the hardest hit by changes in the staffing formula.
“As a result, the Minister of Education announced no school will lose over two full-time teacher equivalent positions over the next four years. This provides a level of protection for all intermediate schools, including ours, within a tight fiscal environment.”
Despite the promise of schools only losing one or two teachers, intermediate schools are still opposing staffing cuts and have the backing of secondary schools.
PPTA president Robin Duff said there is a lot of support for what the union is opposing which is rare because teachers do not always agree on policy.
He says the cuts amounted to a $300 million clawback of school staffing over the next five years, and technology education would take a hit.
“Subject options will have to be cut and area schools and junior high schools will no longer be able to function the way they were designed to operate.”
He says losing one teacher is a bad thing for a school.
He says arguments that the cuts were designed to improve teacher quality were “fundamentally dishonest” as the evidence showed Treasury and Government had been preparing for them since well before the 2011 election.
Tauranga MP Simon Bridges says 90 per cent of schools are either going to have a gain or a net loss of one teacher as a result of Budget changes.
“Where there are schools that could potentially be affected by more than that, so that’s the other 10 per cent of those schools, we are guaranteeing that they won’t lose more than two full-times teachers as a result of policy changes in the Budget.
“I don’t know whether Otumoetai Intermediate is in a position of gaining or losing one teacher, but I can guarantee that they will not lose more than two because no intermediate in New Zealand will.”
Simon says any additional costs from their guarantee will be met from a contingency fund set aside by the Ministry of Education to manage the transition to the new class size ratios.
“I really value what’s happening at Otumoetai Intermediate, I know from personal experience what a terrific school it is and with terrific teachers.
“In tight times we are doing what we can to focus in on quality teaching.”
Education Minister Hekia Parata says ratios will remain as they are for new entrants at one to 15, and for students sitting NCEA in years 11-13, will be standardised at one to 17.3.
In the middle years from two to 10-year-olds she says there is currently a wide range of ratios, ranging from one to 23 to one to 29. The Government will standardise this ratio to 1:27.5.