4 Apr 2014

Decision day for teachers, principals

9:50 am on 4 April 2014

Primary school teachers and principals will decide on Friday whether to fight or support the Government's new policy of creating jobs for the best teachers and principals.

The Government says the $360 million plan will improve schools, but some fear it will lead to principals and teachers being punished for student failure.

The primary teachers' union, the Educational Institute, is holding the last in a series of national meetings on the issue on Friday, while regional leaders from the Principals Federation are also meeting in Wellington to debate it.

Federation president Philip Harding says there are some big questions about it.

"This policy signals a significant change," he says, "and I think that's made people very nervous. They're very scared about losing self-management, they're scared about losing boards, they're scared about their identity and they're really worried about what is driving this and where it might be leading."

Mr Harding says the fact that details of the policy are being developed in secret has fuelled suspicions about it.

The NZEI says it is likely to take strong action, as people have expressed strong views at the meetings.

"Our national executive is charged with taking a decision as to what our next steps will be," says national secretary Paul Goulter, "but the feedback at this stage is very sharp.

"We're going to need to take a very, very strong position on this but exactly what that looks like will be decided by the national exec."

Mr Goulter says the union's members believe there are better ways for the Government to spend its money.