Ten of 10 students get it: fair for teachers, good for us

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Report by NewsroomPlus.com

Contributed by Daniel Haines, Political & Auckland Correspondent

“Our conditions of employment are the conditions of your children’s education”.

These powerful words were the backdrop for the New Zealand Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) campaign launch in Auckland last night, aligned to bargaining on behalf of 17,500 teachers for improvements to teachers’ pay and conditions.

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The PPTA’s position is that over the last five years teachers’ pay has fallen behind inflation, which means that teachers have taken a pay cut. The government says that they want to make teaching a top choice career, and the PPTA,  the union and professional association for secondary teachers, is negotiating with the government  to fix this, and to make sure great teachers are attracted to and kept in our schools.

There is no doubt that Secondary teachers do a massively important job.  They work hard and their students know what they do for them – a key platform for the campaign (see below).

Held at Trades Hall on Great North Road in Grey Lynn this campaign launch opened with a whakataukī, a karakia and a waiata – connecting everyone for the remainder of the evening.

Angela Roberts the PPTA President channeled the vibe of the audience well when she opened with: “It’s good to be in a room that celebrates solidarity and unionism.”

Her passionate speech identified future challenges and provided longitudinal context, particularly highlighting the difficulties the PPTA could face if negotiating with a hostile Government. Roberts called for the union members in the room to go back to their communities and seek support for a campaign founded in reason and logic.

David Cunliffe was the Labour Party’s representative at the meeting; he was the first of the sitting MPs to speak, delivering a pre-prepared speech that was written on the back of the Labour Party policy manifesto, a fact he had to remind the room of. Cunliffe spoke about life-long learning, social mobility, and publicly funded education.

Denise Roche was the Green Party representative; she applauded the PPTA on their strong, though unsuccessful, resistance against the Education Amendment Bill (No 2); whilst also applauding the PPTA for their ability to minimize the negative effects of the Employment Relations Act. Roche spoke about how the PPTA are seeking reasonable pay increases and made it known that the Green Party would be “with you as much as we can, and when you want us.”

Tracey Martin was the New Zealand First representative, and was introduced by the MC as “a long friend of education and teachers”. Martin spoke strongly about her passion for education, claiming that as a Board of Trustees Chair they had a shared history. Martin expressed her belief that parents trust teachers to raise their kids, and so to win this campaign she advised: “don’t explain the profession, explain your humanity”. Martin said teachers are experts at educating children, and political representatives need to be alongside teachers at the coalface to understand the issues.

Anatomy of a campaign

As part of PPTA’s campaign to raise public awareness of the value of teachers, a film crew was engaged to talk to students about what they think of their teachers.

Creative Campaign Strategist Anna Dean was brought on board to brainstorm ideas on how the campaign could achieve cut-through in today’s media environment with a slightly different approach.

“Video really is a key medium to be operating in these days,” she says, “and as I had worked with director Dean Hewison and producer Bevin Linkhorn recently on a campaign for NZ On Air at Alltracks.co.nz, I felt confident they would be able to create something bold and beautiful.
Anna Dean: “Budgets need to be spent carefully these days with the increasingly prohibitive cost of print, and video is what gets traction in the newsfeed right now. I think this is also such direct and simple messaging.
“It really does show how unfair the lack of a real pay rise for NZ secondary school teachers is. Teenagers see first hand the challenges teachers face so they are the perfect spokespeople.”
In the words of the PPTA’s Tom Haig “The results were off-the-cuff, unscripted and wonderfully articulate”.

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What makes a great teacher?

What do teachers do all day? 

… and the punchline – Can you solve the problem?


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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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