According to NZEI, on Wednesday the Ministry offered around 86 per cent of teachers about 2.2-2.6 per cent a year for three years.
The union had been seeking 16 per cent over two years, to address issues around recruitment and retention that are plaguing the sector.
Liam Rutherford, lead negotiator at NZEI, said the reaction from teachers so far had been “similar to the disappointment that the negotiating team had when they saw the offer come through”.
“I haven’t come across a single person…that has said, 'oh yep, this is close'.”
“And [there’s] anger [on social media] … a number of the comments that came through last night were teachers that were just absolutely fed up with where things are up to, and they were holding out hope with the change of government that we may have had a clearer pathway through, but the offer hasn’t indicated that at all.”
In a detailed statement, Ellen MacGregor-Reid, Deputy Secretary Early Learning and Student Achievement at the Ministry of Education, said the Government valued teachers and principals.
“Progressing their pay and working conditions in the current bargaining round is a priority for us,” she said.
The Ministry said its offer included a cumulative increase of 14.7 per cent to base salaries for graduates with a teaching degree, from $47,980 to $55,030 over three years. Graduates with a subject degree and graduate teaching diploma would get a 14.2 percent cumulative increase from $49,588 to $56,638 over three years, MacGregor-Reid explained.
“Teachers on the next steps (6-11) will see a cumulative increase of between 6.5 to 13.7 percent to base salaries over three years. Teachers on the maximum step (12) will receive a cumulative increase of 6.1 percent over three years ($75,949 to $80,599),” she said.
There were also offers made for principals: an increase of between 9.5 to 11 per cent over three years for primary principals in schools of 150 students or less.
“That would see nearly 40 per cent of primary principals receive an additional $6000 over three years,” MacGregor-Reid said.
“Principals of schools with 150 or more students would receive an increase of between 6 and 7.6 per cent over three years.”
However, Rutherford said the Ministry’s offer did not do enough for later-career teachers.
“We have got a 12 step pay scale and what they have done is on the early steps that you can come into the profession on, they have done four, four-and-a-half per cent a year for three years on those early steps, but for the rest of the steps they have done approximately two per cent a year for three years on all of the high steps.
“And when you look at it, 86 per cent of teachers are currently working in the steps that will only get the two per cent a year for three years.
“So really what [the Ministry has] done is they have made an assumption that what attracts people into teaching is your entry level pay, and they have done higher increases to that.
“I dispute that assumption, I think that people view teaching as a long-term career, and while they don’t ignore the entry level pay, in actual fact they do want to know ‘where am I going to be in five years, where am I going to be in ten years, where am I going to be in 15 years?’” he said.
NZEI said that according to 2016 figures, about 14 per cent of all teachers have been teaching for less than four years.
Rutherford said despite comments from the Government in recent months that the budget was tight, the union had hoped the Ministry would be able to offer them a better deal.
“They have definitely been saying that, but it’s important to understand that the issues that underpin this round of negotiations have actually been coming up for a good ten years now, and that it’s year after year of chronic underfunding, and particularly with the last government, the undervaluing of teachers and the role that we have in society.”
Rutherford explained the ongoing crisis in teaching was wearing on the morale of educators.
“One of the things that makes me particularly disappointed is, quite often you hear teachers now not being ambassadors for other people to become teachers.
"So we have really shifted on from a time where teachers were encouraging other people to become teachers, talking about how fantastic the job is, and … quite often [now] you hear some of our experienced teachers … actively telling [their children] don’t be a teacher, the workload and the pay don’t align with where we should be.”
He warned that the shortage would lead to larger class sizes, which would be “detrimental” to children’s learning.
Rutherford added that some of the union’s other claims had been largely ignored, including around workload issues and the request to fund a Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) in every school, to assist children with additional learning needs.
“They offered a two-hour-a-term increase in our current release provisions, which equates to about 12 minutes a week.
“Their response was a series of work groups to see if they were going to lead to any solutions.
“We’ve come from a previous government whose solution was to work group a lot of things, and so people are rightly a bit sceptical around whether or not you actually achieve what we need to from a work group, and it totally ignored the fact that in actual fact workload needs solutions that start immediately, not in 18 month or two years’ time when a work group comes up with whatever they’re going to do.”
The offer will now be discussed with NZEI’s members.
“They’ll have the option to either accept or reject it; if they do choose to reject it then they’ll also be making plans for what their next steps could be, one of which could be industrial action,” Rutherford explained.
“I don’t think anybody wants to take that because we know the impact that has on students and on our community.
“The reality is that unless you do something about the workload, and something about the pay, you are not going to attract more people into the teaching profession,” Rutherford said.