Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins spent a couple of hours “back at school” on Monday morning.
The Labour spokesperson on education, Hipkins was at Upper Hutt Primary at the start of a new term to show his backing for a New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) campaign for better funding of teacher aides and other support staff.
“They do an amazing job with some of our most vulnerable children and deserve better recognition,” Hipkins said.
“I got to see first-hand what a fantastic job they do and was reminded of the challenges they face.
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“At the moment, school support staff are paid out of the school operations grant. That means they are competing with day-to-day costs like electricity, ICT, classroom resources and school maintenance.
“The Labour Party has made a clear commitment to fund school support staff through a centralised system, as we presently do for teachers.
“We will also ensure support staff are given better training and professional development and have access to a career framework that rewards them for advancing their skills.”
School support staff have long struggled with low pay, often little more than minimum wage even after years of work experience, NZEI president Lynda Stuart said.
Hipkins, and other MPs across the country supporting the campaign, signed a petition calling for better funding for our schools.
Almost 50,000 people have signed the petition which will be presented to Education Minister Nikki Kaye.