"Teachers will want to see the colour of their money, not just words," Ms Stuart says. "The teacher shortage crisis we face today is a direct result of the National Government’s policies over the past nine years, and that legacy will not be quickly forgotten or fixed quickly.
"We are encouraged, however, by this U-turn from National, and welcome the new leadership’s commitment to better fund schools and teaching to ensure all Kiwi kids access a great education."
She said the policy switch was a significant response to NZEI members’ campaigns for smaller class sizes, better pay, more resourcing and the need to address teacher workload and well-being issues over the past few years.
She said the union’s campaign for better funding for early childhood education and requiring all ECE teachers to be trained and qualified appeared to also belatedly be bearing fruit.
"It is simply hypocritical for National today to criticise so-called "low quality" ECE centres when it was the National Government in 2009 that froze ECE funding and removed the target and funding for 100% qualified teachers. Again, the education sector will be pleased National is finally listening to the evidence about children’s needs and the realities of teachers’ work, but will want to see detailed funding and policy proposals from National about how they propose to better fund ECE."
She says that with a 40% drop in people entering ECE and primary teacher training after nine years of National Government, short and long-term solutions to attract people into teaching were needed. These included a significant pay jolt, more time to teach and additional staffing to support children with additional learning needs.
Primary principals and teachers are currently balloting for a full day strike on August 15, after the Ministry of Education offered just over 2% per annum increases to most teachers and only an additional two hours a term - 12 minutes a week - in professional release time.