Class size and the way New Zealand secondary schools are staffed

Class sizes in schools are impacted by the need to individualise learning, the pressure on schools to offer broad curriculum options and the current staffing formula (regulation) which was developed before there were very large schools.

In addition there have been a string of policy requirements or initiatives imposed on schools without additional staffing to implement them. Each initiative, large or small, requires staffing hours and these are inevitably drawn from the curriculum staffing time available to a school, reducing the overall number of classes and driving up class sizes.

Schools struggle to compensate for inadequate staffing levels set by the staffing formula

Schools have been forced to try to compensate for inadequate entitlement staffing allocations by hiring additional teachers - around 10% of the secondary teaching force is funded directly by boards. Some schools have more than 6 teachers they fund from operations grant in order to meet the basic timetable and pastoral demands in their schools. This equates to more than $500,000 per year. The high level of board-funded staffing in the system contributes to the operations grant pressures in the secondary sector.

Secondary Schools' Staffing Group (SSSG) 2012

The Secondary Schools' Staffing Group (SSSG) was established as part of the Terms of Settlement for the Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement (STCA) 2011-2013. Both parties to the collective agreement negotiations, the Post Primary Teachers' Association and the Ministry of Education, agreed that more work was desirable between the two parties with respect to class size.

The SSSG comprised representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Post Primary Teachers' Association, New Zealand School Trustees Association, the Secondary Principals' Association of New Zealand, and the New Zealand Secondary Principals' Council.

As a group, we investigated baseline data on class size and timetabling practice in New Zealand secondary schools, undertook a review of the current research on class size, and undertook a survey and sample case studies with a selection of secondary schools.

The resulting Report of the Secondary Schools' Staffing Group sets out our main findings and recommendations to the Secretary for Education.  It also sets out each member group's position on class size issues.

Secondary Schools' Staffing Group (SSSG) 2012

The Secondary Schools' Staffing Group (SSSG) was established as part of the Terms of Settlement for the Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement (STCA) 2011-2013. Both parties to the collective agreement negotiations, the Post Primary Teachers' Association and the Ministry of Education, agreed that more work was desirable between the two parties with respect to class size.

The SSSG comprised representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Post Primary Teachers' Association, New Zealand School Trustees Association, the Secondary Principals' Association of New Zealand, and the New Zealand Secondary Principals' Council.

As a group, we investigated baseline data on class size and timetabling practice in New Zealand secondary schools, undertook a review of the current research on class size, and undertook a survey and sample case studies with a selection of secondary schools.

The resulting Report of the Secondary Schools' Staffing Group sets out our main findings and recommendations to the Secretary for Education.  It also sets out each member group's position on class size issues.

The School Staffing Review Group 2000

The School Staffing Review Group (SRG) recognised many of the problems in 2000 and recommended that once the first 10 steps of its staffing proposals were in place the next phase should be to implement its recommendation (3.6) which sought to address class size by lowering the curriculum staffing dividers by 2 at each level and adding additional management and pastoral staffing to schools. In 2005 the Labour-led Government committed itself to implementing all of the recommendations of the report, but failed to do so.

PPTA attempted to raise the issues of inadequate curriculum staffing entitlement through a working party process but this was blocked by the then Minster and the Ministry of Education. A subsequent staffing and class size maximum claim in the 2007 Secondary Teacher Collective Agreement round was also rejected. The demands of teachers, schools and parents for improvements in class sizes, and for adequate management and guidance staffing components to secondary schools will not abate.

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Last modified on Monday, 12 December 2016 09:28