Elected late last year following NZEI’s Annual Conference, Stuart began her term on January 18, leading the country’s largest education union, and advocate for quality public schooling.
As principal of Mt Roskill’s multicultural May Road School, Stuart is passionate about tackling inequity, and for schools to be properly resourced to respond to their communities’ aspirations for their children.
The areas she intends to focus on during her term as president reflect this passion.
“As educators, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that every child is able to reach their potential and achieve their dreams, regardless of socio-economic background, special learning needs or any other barrier to success,” Stuart says.
The new president is certain all New Zealanders want this too.
“Our children are the future of the entire country and quality public education must be a funding priority - this will be our focus in the upcoming General Election.
“One of the things that really concerns me is that our education system relies on the political whim or ideology of our politicians and there is the potential for us to swing in different directions with every change of government,” she adds.
Stuart’s dream would be for all political parties to agree to a 20-year vision for education, working alongside educators driving the professional knowledge and using good evidence.
This would mean whichever political party is in power, there is a commitment to a shared vision and the direction education is going in, rather than just having policy coming in from left field, she adds.
Other areas Stuart will focus on include sourcing appropriate resourcing for bilingual units and resources in schools; ensuring all children are attending quality early childhood education (ECE) services with 100 per cent qualified and registered teachers; a funding ‘jolt’ recognising and compensating for the years of underfunding; an effective equity funding scheme for schools recognising the increasing inequity in NZ, and sustainable funding for schools to employ support staff with fair pay and security of employment.
Stuart has relocated to Wellington for the duration of the role, and will return to her role at May Road School at the conclusion of her two-year presidency.