Over 500 education specialists set to strike next week - 'Prioritise the needs of children'

More education staff are taking strike action, this time learning support specialists will walk off the job next week.

Like teachers, the psychologists and speech therapists say they are overloaded and underpaid. Source: 1 NEWS

They say they're facing the same issues as primary school teachers and need more pay to recruit and retain staff.

"What we're asking for is for them to prioritise the needs of children and what that means is we need a remuneration package that will recruit and retain specialists," NZEI learning support lead negotiator Byron Sanders said.

Learning support specialists including psychologists and speech language therapists will strike on Tuesday.

They say they're overloaded and under-paid and have rejected the Ministry's four per cent pay offer.

Mr Sanders said their collective agreement expired in February, so they want to see action.

“It has reached crisis point, the reason being is that we can’t recruit and retain some of those key specialists,” he said.

Tute porter-Samuels has been a special needs co-ordinator at Wainuiomata Primary for over a decade. She says she's seen a rise in children with complex needs.

"That's the crisis we're experiencing around learning support, that we simply cannot get the help we need, when we need it. It’s the kids that ultimately lose out," she said.

NZEI said it doesn’t think it's asking too much of the Ministry, as negotiations continue with primary teachers.

The government said it sympathises with school support staff.

“That's why in our first budget we put one of the most substantial increases into learning support that we've seen, we know there are issues there," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today.  

Around five hundred and fifty learning support staff will strike, following in the footsteps of teachers they stood side by side with this week.