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'Keep Honour Bright - Kia manawanui, kia manawa piharau'

Open Letter to Whānau of Mimi Students     04.08.2018












Dear Parents and Caregivers,

On 15th August, teaching staff Mimi School will be involved in industrial action (striking).  This letter is to help shed some light on why the teaching profession is moved to action, and why they need your help and support.  

Firstly, this is not solely about pay but about the quality of education that your child receives.  

There is a serious crisis occurring in Education.  We have teachers leaving the profession in droves; a large percentage of our workforce about to retire (with others postponing retirement), lessening numbers of people entering training and graduates leaving the job in the first 5 years of teaching.        

  • Significant numbers of Teachers are leaving in the first 5 years of teaching 
  • 40% of teachers are due to retire in the next 10 years
  • 40% less teachers are being trained!

The crisis is most serious in Greater Auckland, and other parts of the country are finding themselves in the same position Auckland was in only a short few years ago.  Within Taranaki schools are finding it harder and harder to attract good quality applicants to apply for jobs, and some schools are currently have to increase class sizes dramatically because they are struggling to fill positions.

What exactly is this ‘crisis’ the profession is concerned about?

  1. There are less and less people applying for jobs.In our own case for the last position we advertised we received four applications and at the start of the year we received only seven. This is down from past applications. In town schools are reporting drops of more 50% in the numbers of applications received for Permanent full time positions.
  2. Finding a classroom teacher is hard but, finding a reliever is even harder! (those wonderful and essential beings that come into your school to teach a class when the day to day teacher is sick or attending professional development).  
  3. The problem is not just a Primary school issue – our secondary schools are struggling, and for them they have the additional headache of finding specialists, especially in areas where people can make more money in the corporate world as opposed to being a ‘teacher’.  Our Early Childhood sector is also struggling to find staff. 
  4. Small Schools suffer more acutely under current pay and funding deals. Senior Leaders particularly Principals of small schools (like Mimi School) are paid less than senior leaders in larger schools even though the principal role is MUCH larger and involves greater accountability.

The lack of funding for small schools means that sometimes only one adult is on site with students. This creates concerns around Health and Safety and how to manage in an emergency situation.

SO, why is this ‘crisis’ such a big deal?

There are a number of reasons and unintended consequences that arise because of the teacher shortage, and the public should be concerned.  

1. INTERRUPTION OF EDUCATION  – There is a whole generation and cohort of students who are getting shortchanged in their education.  They are facing an inconsistent education because in some cases they are having a series of part time teachers or there is no teacher to be found so classes get split.

2. INTERRUPTION OF LEADERSHIP Where schools can, they use senior leaders, in our case the Principal to take classes or be the ‘reliever’.  However this ‘solution’ is not sustainable.  They then have to add another working day to the end of that day in order to do the things they would have been doing instead.         

The last time we went on strike as a profession was in the 90s.   We do not like causing disruption to our students and their families but things must change.

Teachers and leaders have had enough. Every time one of our profession leaves the rest of the teachers have to pick up the slack and let me be clear, there is no slack left and most of the goodwill that was in the profession has gone.  

This teacher shortage is serious – please understand that if we do not do something about making it affordable to teach in our cities, attractive to want to be a teacher, and do something about ensuring our teachers and leaders have the time to manage the workload – then your child, your neighbours child, the child you see walking into your local school or the child about to leave school that you employ to work in your business or alongside you – they are the ones that are going to be shortchanged.

The Mimi Board of Trustees believe that teachers and support staff in all schools need support to make sure their claim is heard and validated by the current Ministry of Education. Schools and staff are simply not sustainable in their current form. Whilst we apologise for the inconvenience of having to arrange alternative child care for the day we hope that you will join us in supporting our valuable and hard working staff.

From the Mimi Board of Trustees and teaching staff.