June 13th, 2024

NZEI Te Riu Roa calls for overhaul of teacher training and protection of early childhood sector

NZEI Te Riu Roa demands reforms to teacher training and calls for greater protections for early childhood education, highlighting the need for permanent positions, mentorship support, and pay parity amidst concerns of government cuts and deregulation.

NZEI Te Riu Roa has called for a profession-led transformation, emphasising the importance of a bicultural focus in any redesign.
NZEI Te Riu Roa has called for a profession-led transformation, emphasising the importance of a bicultural focus in any redesign.

NZEI Te Riu Roa, the union representing early childhood and primary teachers, has issued strong calls for both a major overhaul of the teacher training system and increased protections for the early childhood education sector, according to a media release from NZEI Te Riu Roa yesterday.

The union's call for change follows a critical report from the Education Review Office (ERO) on teacher training. The report highlighted inconsistent quality in training programmes and noted that half of primary teachers begin their careers on fixed-term agreements.

Noting that schools value beginning teachers and want to support them in their first two years on the job while they gain their full teacher certification said NZEI Te Riu Roa president Mark Potter said: "However, the system doesn’t do enough to incentivise the long-term employment of our newest teachers. That means too many don’t have stability of employment, which can impact the quality of the mentoring and support they receive."

Potter also highlighted the issue of large class sizes, which hinder experienced teachers' ability to mentor new teachers effectively.

"Experienced teachers are having to manage large classroom sizes, which diverts their attention away from supporting and mentoring beginning teachers," he said.

NZEI Te Riu Roa has called for a profession-led transformation, emphasising the importance of a bicultural focus in any redesign.

"We need to ensure training sustains the teaching profession. This will involve coming together with hapu, iwi, and runanga," Potter said.

He welcomed ERO's recommendations to explore paid placements and guaranteed employment for provisionally certified teachers.

In addition to the call for training reforms, NZEI Te Riu Roa is organising nationwide meetings this week, where hundreds of early childhood teachers and staff will urge Members of Parliament (MPs) and communities to protect the early childhood education sector from government cuts and deregulation.

The union meetings, open to the community, will address key concerns such as maintaining the pay parity scheme for early childhood teachers. Members are calling on MPs to pledge to protect, value, and respect the work of all early childhood educators and the children they care for.

"Early childhood kaiako and kaimahi have repeatedly voiced fears about the Government’s current agenda – putting the needs of business ahead of the needs of tamariki," according to a media release from NZEI Te Riu Roa .

The meetings are part of a broader effort to ensure that funding and policy decisions support the quality and stability of early childhood education in New Zealand.