By Mick Jensen
Primary and intermediate schools around the district will be closed if proposed strike action goes ahead on August 15.
The nationwide action by teachers and principals is led by teachers union NZEI, which says that within a decade New Zealand will be short 1800 primary teachers because of serious recruitment and retention issues.
The unions says teachers and principals have high workloads, lack support for students with additional learning and behavioural needs, work in an undervalued profession and need to be paid better.
Mid Canterbury Principals Association president Tim Kuipers said the strike action was “not just about pay”.
“The sentiments echoed by my fellow principals is that the profession is just not attracting and retaining the best people.
“Talented people are put off by the pay and conditions in the job and drawn to other professions,” he said.
He said statistics showed that 40 per cent of teachers left the profession after five years and that there was a 40 per cent drop in people training to be teachers.
The strike action will be taken by educators in schools that have signed up to the Primary Teachers Agreement, which includes all local schools with the exception of Ashburton Christian School, which is an Area school.
Hampstead School principal Peter Melrose said it was time to make a stand against conditions in the profession.
Teacher were stressed and under resourced and those issues needed addressing, he said.