Children running around a courtyard.

Pūaotanga Report 2021

Realising the potential of every child

In June 2021, NZEI Te Riu Roa published Pūaotanga, an independent report which we commissioned in response to longstanding concerns among our members about primary school staffing. The people who shared their views and experiences in contributing to this report told us that primary school staffing is not fit for purpose and the need for change is urgent.

The model used to determine staffing levels has been in place for over 25 years and fundamental changes are required to the ‘one size fits all’ education system we have right now.

The issues

In the report, teachers said that they love what they do but lack of funding means that they don’t have the support they need to make sure every child has access to a quality education.

  1. Teachers are exhausted, dispirited and many are close to burnout, most don’t see any way forward or anything getting better.
  2. Teachers feel undervalued, and they’re worried that young people are seeing the workload and burnout which will put them off entering the sector.
  3. Primary staff, especially primary principals, are concerned about the lack of parity in funding, staffing and pay between primary and secondary schools.

The Asks

We need systemic change with a clear pathway towards staffing levels that allow teachers to support every child to reach their potential. This means:

  1. More sustainable classroom ratios and increased classroom release time to ensure teachers are equipped to be at their best.
  2. Increased funding for specialised support staff, including teacher aides and kaiārahi i te reo.
  3. An increased base of the Māori Immersion Teaching Allowance (MITA) and a matched allowance for Pasifika teachers.
  4. Increased management staffing entitlement with a guaranteed miniumum of 0.5FTE professional leadership staffing.
A principal of a primary school standing in the centre of a courtyard with an action shot of children running in a circle around her.

About the report

National monitoring standards show that many students are falling behind in key areas by the time they reach Year 8. Reported percentages of students falling behind in different subject areas:

  1. 81% in science
  2. 65% in writing
  3. 62% in social studies
  4. 59% in mathematics
  5. 49% in health and PE
  6. 41% in reading
Primary teachers helps students set up a tent.

We’re letting our Māori and Pasifika communities down

There are strong feelings that the education system is racist and not geared to deliver for Māori or Pasifika children. Teachers and support staff are battling to preserve and encourage cultural education under ever-increasing time pressures and administrative burdens. Support in this space is needed.

Read the report

Change starts from understanding the issues. Read the full Pūaotanga report to understand the challenges facing our educators.