Education Minister Chris Hipkins says the Government was “committed to working towards” the eventual central funding of teacher aides, hoping this will resolve their ongoing pay dispute.
Mr Hipkins told TVNZ1’s Breakfast this morning he recognised teacher aides were currently some of the least paid and least supported in the current system.
Teacher aides are currently paid out of schools’ operating costs instead of centrally from the Ministry of Education.
“That’s something [central funding] our Government is committed to working towards. It’s not something you can do overnight because it has implications,” Mr Hipkins said.
“You’ve got to have a system that can cope with that, and at the moment we don’t.
“But long-term, that’s what we want to achieve.”
Ally Kemplen, an Auckland teacher aide on the teachers’ union NZEI pay equity negotiation team, told TVNZ1’s Breakfast yesterday the current funding system meant schools had to make choices between funding staff and other costs related to running schools, like power or maintenance work.
Mr Hipkins said there were three key issues the teachers’ union NZEI was negotiating in terms of teacher aides. These included their collective agreement, pay equity and their funding from schools’ operating costs.
“We’ve got to address all three of those things to get them a better deal,” Mr Hipkins said.
He said it was “a little bit to work through”.
Riki Teteina, the principal of Newton Central School in Auckland, also asked the Government yesterday to “stop dragging [its] heels” and centralise funding so principals can provide better job security.
He said their work looking after students with high social, mental and physical needs was vital, but the job insecurity and low pay they faced meant they were “absolutely not” valued enough.
Funding is also often attached to particular students, meaning there is no guarantee of ongoing full-time employment, he said.