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Concern for strike-affected students

Wairarapa parents are concerned ongoing strike action by teachers is being taken to the “detriment” of students.

While primary school teachers settled their contract dispute last week, the Post Primary Teachers Association [PPTA] said its members voted overwhelmingly against the Ministry of Education’s offer of three pay rises over two years plus a $4500 lump sum payment.

Last Friday, secondary school teachers resolved to take further strike action, with different year levels rostered home since Monday as a result.

A local parent, who preferred to remain anonymous, told the Times-Age that while their son is old enough to stay home alone, keeping a teenage boy on task all day is a challenge, and the strike action is just the latest iteration of disrupted learning.

“Since our son has been at college there have been so many disruptions from lockdowns and restrictions with school gatherings, outings, and sport.”

In addition, his boarding school is offering no refund for the days of school missed due to strike action, they said.

“I agree the teachers need to be looked after but not at the detriment of the students.”

Another parent – whose child attends Wairarapa College – said they have been impressed with the level of cooperation and communication from teachers, who had been checking in on their child’s progress.

In an effort to mitigate the impact on students and parents, Chanel and Solway Colleges have announced that supervised learning areas will be in operation for affected year levels.

In a letter to parents, Chanel College said students are expected at school and will be supervised by the principal and non-PPTA members.

Solway College principal Janine Tupaea said similar action will be taken at her school.

Tupaea said she has concerns about the nature of the rostering home strike action “which, although it avoids financial implications for the striking teachers, does not take into account the wider implications for students, families, schools and additional implications for boarding schools”.

Wairarapa PPTA chairperson Ryan McCroskery said parents should be “frustrated at the lack of genuine effort by the Ministry of Education to sort this issue”.

“It should not take over a year to negotiate,” McCroskery said.

“The offer doesn’t meet the requirement of improving conditions and remuneration to a level that will ensure teacher retention and recruitment in secondary education. It will not ensure subjects are taught by subject specialist teachers.”

McCroskery has also urged parents and the wider community to contact the government, explaining the effects the strikes are having on their kids’ learning.

Negotiations are expected to resume later this week amid the rolling strikes.

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