Tukunga pāpāho

Smaller class sizes will genuinely put tamariki at centre of education

12 Mahu 2023

Smaller class sizes are one of the most important steps we can make to improve learning in primary schools, NZEI Te Riu Roa said today off the back of a Ministerial Advisory Group Reviewing School Staffing announcement.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Mark Potter said the announcement followed a strong union campaign which put staffing issues on the agenda. The review arose out of collective agreement negotiations earlier this year.

“Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. Teachers and principals I speak to across the country are all really clear that staffing, and better learning support, are fundamental issues we need to fix in order to really benefit the learning of tamariki.”

“The good news is there is a template waiting for the government to pick up on. Our union commissioned the independent Pūaotanga review in 2021 – which delivered a blueprint for change.

“Pūaotanga made recommendations to increase teacher aides, having a dedicated learning support coordination in all schools, increased management staffing entitlements, and reducing class sizes. These steps and others would significantly benefit tamariki.”

Mark Potter said the union had argued for the inclusion of early childhood education in the review.

“We are disappointed that the review will not advance progress on teacher to student ratios in early childhood, which are an ongoing commitment as stated in the Early Learning Action Plan. Given that ECE establishes the learning journeys of tamariki and teachers in early childhood education face the same issues of increasingly diverse learning needs and management of curriculum, this is a missed opportunity.”


Earlier this year, NZEI Te Riu Roa primary and area school teachers campaigned for and won a more than doubling of release time for teachers, critical for planning the best possible learning experiences.

The increase, from 10 hours to 25 hours a term by 2025, was the first movement since 2005 and will result in a staffing increase equivalent to 1500 additional primary teachers.

Members have strongly supported movement on class sizes as the next important step needed.