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Striking teachers score settlement

Primary school teachers across New Zealand agreed to accept the latest Ministry of Education collective offer on Wednesday.

It was the fourth offer made by the ministry and followed an extensive campaign involving the largest strike of education workers in New Zealand’s history.

The collective offer includes a six per cent pay increase in July, followed by two more increases due next year in July and December.

A lump sum payment of $3000 will be made in July, plus a further $1500 for union members.

The settlement also includes a $4000 per annum allowance for teachers who are required to teach te Reo Māori immersion classes at levels 1, 2 or 3.

Other important aspects of the settlement include increased mileage allowances, and classroom release times climbing from 10 hours to 25 hours per term.

A Wairarapa primary school teacher who preferred to remain anonymous told the Times-Age that the release days are a big win, as this allows more time to test children and decide on their next learning steps.

“Strikes are always hard,” they said.

“I don’t personally agree with them because I think it impacts parents too much and gets their backs up, although I can see they can also work to show that teachers are serious. I’m super glad to have settled so we don’t have more.”

Masterton Intermediate School Principal Russell Thompson said he has “mixed emotions” about the settlement.

“Why are we treating primary school teachers any differently from secondary and kindy teachers? Why can’t they be given the same mana as primary school teachers?” he asked.

Although he welcomes the improved conditions it represents, Thompson said he doesn’t see how the new deal will help improve current teacher shortages in the next couple of years.

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