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MP tells ‘undervalued’ teacher to look for a new job

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Stuff report.

A Wairarapa school teacher was shocked by her local MP’s suggestion to “look elsewhere” if she didn’t like her employment circumstances.

Greytown primary school teacher Alex Southall wrote to Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott of the National Party saying it was time for action over teachers’ pay and conditions.

“I was shocked by that response. I was like ‘Wow, if that’s how valued we really are, that’s so sad’,” Southall said.

Scott told Southall although he supported increased wages for teachers he believed teachers should find another job if they were not happy.

“When an employee feels undervalued I always encourage them to look elsewhere for opportunities. There is a lot of work to be done and always opportunities.”

He compared this market approach to the way he runs his business, a Masterton-based winery.

“For any employer-employee relationship to be successful, both parties need to be mutually respectful of each other. Treat each other reasonably and pay a fair wage. 

“That’s what I do at the winery. If people are not happy with the way I treat them as an employer then I would expect them to talk to me, and then if they are still unhappy, I would expect them to leave.”

Southall said the situation with New Zealand’s teachers was different and that the Government should offer better conditions for its school staff.

She wondered what Scott thought would happen if teachers left the public system en masse.

“Who’s going to teach your kids if I do up and leave?”

“I know that I am a good teacher and kids need good teachers in front of them. No-one’s going to be stepping up and filling that role if we do leave,” she said.

“Once we’re here, we don’t last so long. I’ve got so many friends who have said ‘no, why should I be sticking it out with all these terrible conditions and pay and feeling undervalued?’.”

Southall, 26, was the senior syndicate leader at Greytown School and complains that she is sometimes working until 10pm to get her planning work done.

School teachers and principals across the country plan to stage New Zealand’s largest-ever strike later this month as negotiations with the Ministry of Education stalled.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said Alistair Scott’s response speaks volumes about the National Party’s attitude towards the teaching profession.

“His party, spent nine years while they were in Government undervaluing and undermining the role of teachers and schools.

“They are now trying to rebrand themselves as a party that supports teachers and principals, but scratch below the surface and you’ll see that it’s the same old National Party.”

He said the Government’s current offer to primary and secondary teachers was the largest pay offer they have received in over a decade.

“The offer demonstrates our commitment to reward and value teachers, while balancing other priorities including mental health, tackling the housing crisis and lifting kids out of poverty,” Hipkins said.

38 COMMENTS

  1. This report on this topic shows how far in the crap youse would have the education system if youse were in govt. Good teachers are very important to our kids future. Give them what they need to do the job correctly. No one should be working at 10 at night after a hard days work.

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  2. Last week I was at a primary school supervising some contractors carrying out work on the heating system. We arrived at 3pm to avoid disrupting the pupils. At 3.10 there were three teachers left, having a brief meeting in a breakout room. At 3.20 the only staff on site were the caretaker and the office woman. From this and many other experiences I have come to distrust all claims by teachers abour how hard they work. They live in a bubble.

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    • Their propaganda about working so many days and hours does bite them in the arse occasionally.

      For example, if they take sick days Friday and Monday, they get pinged for four days sick leave instead of two…because according to their propaganda, they would have been working Saturday and Sunday so hence 4 days sick. No, I’m not joking. It’s nice when their BS works against them.

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      • That Friday – Monday 4 day sick leave law came in approx 20 years ago to deter long weekend sickies by employees. The law applies to every worker, not just complaining poor, hard-done-by whinging teachers.

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        • According to the Holidays Act 2003 (and all amendments) there is no requirement for this. Having worked on payroll engines, they will only ping for the days actually entered and for the days actually worked. So if you don’t work Saturday and Sunday, you’re not going to lose 2 extra sick days.

          I thought this was the case, since I had to know the Holidays Act as well as court rulings over leave disputes as part of my then job.

          Officially, teachers work 7 days a week (even though they don’t). Ergo, it takes them.

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  3. Her first mistake is assuming she’s a good teacher.

    “I know that I am a good teacher…

    What makes her ‘good’ in her own estimation? There’s nothing to pinpoint it too.

    Good is a value judgment. Good compared to what? If you’re ‘good’, do you need to do better?

    Where’s the humility? Perhaps she isn’t good. Maybe she’s bad or mediocre at teaching. Does she strive to do better or since she’s ‘good’ already is she resting on her laurels?

    What she isn’t doing is presenting a ‘good’ argument.

    She whines:

    Southall said the situation with New Zealand’s teachers was different and that the Government should offer better conditions for its school staff.

    Why? If you are unhappy with being a teacher then the lesson is to find an occupation that makes you happy or at least not unhappy.

    Personally, I have no respect for teachers. I found them to be first and foremost propaganda machines when I was growing up…and I went to numerous schools up and down the country. I have not been convinced that this has changed one iota since.

    (For the record, I found two teachers worthwhile as a child. One in chemistry and the other in calculus. Interestingly enough, both of them only practiced teaching for their first year. They both found jobs in the private sector).

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    • I have three teachers in my family and they were all dedicated teachers, my parents and my sister. They all got involved in after school activities also. How about addressing the epidemic of p babies entering the system. Should they be out of the mainstream?

      I do not see why my grandchildren’s education should be compromised because another mother harmed their child during pregnancy, why isn’t that child abuse?

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      • Okay, not an area I’m familiar with, but I did discover something from 2017 from the NZ Herald and 2018 from RNZ. The NZ Herald appears to have two sides consulted, so I’ve linked the Herald. (There are other news articles which I didn’t bother to read).

        https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11837613

        Newman, the person (Newman) after government money is using anecdotal evidence. Casey, representing the ministry cannot detect a trend.

        Casey said the ministry spent about $95 million on behaviour assistance for about 10,000 children last year, and that number of children had not changed much in the last couple of years.

        I could not find anything without the hyperbole, which makes it hard to determine anything. I try not to be ruled by emotion.

        As such, I cannot tell if there is a problem with p-babies or not. If nothing else, the parents are stupid.

        I’m sorry I couldn’t help better.

        If I have time, I’ll see if the USA has better information with meth (their equivalent word). It requires a lot of sifting to see if I can get to a ‘plain-facts’ study.

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        • “that number of children had not changed much in the last couple of years.”
          I don’t suppose it has.
          If the service can cater for 10,000 children and runs at capacity, then the number cannot rise .
          Who collects data on children who should be helped but can’t because there is no more capacity in ‘the system’?

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  4. I am shocked!

    Shocked I tell you!

    Seriously shocked that someone of so limited intelligence as this Southall thing is allowed within 100 metres of a school gate let alone in a classroom.

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    • She’s 26, bless her. In my day, the cut-and-thrust of daily life made people worldly-wise by 26. But 26-year-olds these days still live at home, can barely tie their own shoelaces, and massively overvalue themselves.

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  5. I’ve no idea what their salaries are, but the teachers and principal at my kids’ little rural school have been there forever, so It can’t be too bad surely…there is literally no staff turnover.

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  6. I for one am sick and tired of hearing how ‘hard’ teachers have to work. Quite why the public put up with, or even believe that shit is beyond me. Teachers have twelve weeks annual leave plus seemingly endless ‘in service’ or ‘teacher only’ days yet they still claim to be overworked.

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    • The major reason that the much maligned Novopay system got into trouble was due to thickies in our schools.

      You will not find what follows anywhere in the media because they did their utmost to cast the Aussies in the most unfavourable light as possible and at the same time sanctify teachers.

      1. There is no time limit for timesheets. For example, if a teacher wants to wait twenty years before entering her timesheet, she can! You’d think these teachers would understand things like how inflation devalues money over time but nope they do not. By the way, this type of entry was common.

      2. They can bulk insert time sheets. Heaps of people chortled over the mistake of 33 days instead of 33 hours in the data entry. You know, how could those Aussies be so stupid in their system that they could allow such a basic check to pass? Well, if a teacher wants to enter an entire year of days at once, how can anyone build a robust system to differentiate days from hours? (And remember there is also no time limit, so a teacher could enter five years at once).

      3. If you don’t enter a timesheet, the system hasn’t got a clue it needs to pay you. But you know, blame the Aussies to cover your own imbecilic inaction.

      And these people dare to teach children.

      Please note, not all teachers use timesheets. I’m only highlighting the ones involved in time sheeting as these are the stories I’m familiar with. (And I have a very reliable source).

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    • Some time ago I got fed up with my older kids always being at home while teachers had what seemed like endless “professional development” days. I emailed the principal and politely asked why all this “professional development” wasn’t conducted outside term time during those holidays that aren’t actually holidays (according to teachers). I got a pat and rather snarky response quoting screeds of employment contract clauses and a reminder of how hard teachers work to provide my children with quality education. Perhaps I should simply be grateful I got a response at all? Well, considering how much remedial work at home I have had to put into my children’s education, the principal and I might have a fundamental disagreement over the definition of the word “quality”, at least in the context of education.

      Having observed teachers at close hand for many years, both in a professional capacity and as a parent, all the claims to hard work make me choke. Most of them couldn’t work in an iron lung.

      I will however make exceptions for a couple of outstanding teachers that my kids have had the good fortune to encounter. I know such teachers exist, they’re very good, they DO work hard. But they’re heavily outnumbered by the cream cakes brigade.

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  7. Many years ago when I was on an intermediate school Board I noticed that next year Anzac Day would be on a Thursday. I gave that some thought and proposed that a teacher only day (they used to have two of them each year) be planned for 26th April the following year. The teachers would not have that;
    “Why should the children get a long weekend when we don’t!!!”

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  8. If she is still doing planning at 10 o’clock she must be very inefficient.
    Also she should ask some older teachers about how much time they used to spend making resources for their teaching and classroom. A huge amount of time. But today they are basically all supplied for them.

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