Principals and teachers in primary and area schools begin nation-wide meetings next week to plan a response to the crisis in recruiting and retaining teachers, the lack of time to teach and the inadequate resourcing for children with additional learning needs.

NZEI Te Riu Roa members plan to use upcoming collective agreement negotiations to discuss and progress solutions to the crisis, including a significant pay jolt to address the growing teacher shortage.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart said teachers were fleeing education, and students did not see teaching as a desirable career choice, with a 40% reduction in people enrolling in teacher training in the past six years.

NZEI Te Riu Roa members will make a decision about their claim in meetings over the next fortnight and endorse a campaign for significant investment into the education sector.

Members will consider an increase in the order of 16% over two years. Funding for special learning needs coordinators in every school is also essential to meet the needs of all children and to free teachers to give one-on-one time to every child.

At a launch today in front of more than 100 NZEI leaders and sector representatives, Ms Stuart said the current crisis in recruiting and retaining teachers would be nothing compared to the situation in five or ten years if drastic improvements were not made now.

“The solutions are not cheap, but tackling these issues head-on is the only way to stop this crisis in teacher numbers turning into an unmitigated disaster for our children’s future education,” she said.

A survey of NZEI members found that the overwhelming majority agreed with the need for a major pay jolt to recruit and retain teachers.

“The children of New Zealand deserve the best education in the world and the government has committed to that. We need to address these issues now, otherwise the crisis in teaching will only escalate and we’ll be faced with classes of 40 or more children.

“The lack of time to actually teach and the inadequate pay of teachers is making recruiting and retention extremely difficult right across the country.

“That's why we're saying It's Time/Kua tae te wā. The government recognises the growing crisis that the previous government failed to address and has shown a willingness to work with the sector for solutions beyond a band-aid approach. We’re optimistic that it’s not too late to turn this crisis around.”

The paid meetings begin on March 12 and are being convened separately for teachers and principals. There are NZEI meetings in all areas, with options which will enable some teachers from a school to attend one meeting and the others to attend another, to minimise disruption to schools and students.