December 11, 2023

‘I didn’t get to eat until 5pm’: Teacher reveals gruelling daily schedule ahead of strikes

Watch: Primary school teacher Maiana McCurdy reveals her gruelling schedule.

A primary school teacher has revealed the gruelling schedule she goes through daily as she prepares to join a nationwide strike next week.

Around 30,000 primary school teachers will be going on strike on Thursday after rejecting a second pay offer.

Secondary school and kindergarten teachers are also striking on Thursday, which will mean up to 50,000 teachers will be taking industrial action in total.

Numerous parents emailed AM on Friday morning saying they were against the timing of the strike and AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green slammed the disruption it will cause for children’s education after a year of disturbances.

Primary school teacher Maiana McCurdy told AM she understands parents’ frustration as she’s a parent herself.

But she revealed to AM co-host Ryan Bridge her days are “incredibly full” and start well before the bell goes for class at 9am.

“The day starts before school. [We have] planning and prepping to get ready for the kids to arrive. The kids don’t arrive at 9am, they arrive much earlier than that and we’re always there with a smile on our faces to greet them,” she told AM on Friday.

McCurdy said at lunchtime they have duties and there have been times she hasn’t been able to eat all day.

“On Wednesday, I had two duties so I didn’t actually get a break and then we had a meeting after school as well so I didn’t get to eat until 5pm. That’s pretty much what a day is like for a teacher,” McCurdy said.

In the primary school sector, teachers get two days of release time a month, which works out to be about 10 hours per term for planning and assessment time and also time to spend one on one with students, McCurdy said.

She said if the release time went up to one day per week it would put them equal to what secondary school teachers get.

“How that one day per week looks could take a variety of forms. That could be one hour per day, it could be one day per week. What we’re asking for is more time to do our jobs properly and to do justice to those children that we love and that we teach,” she said.

McCurdy said the big focus for teachers isn’t on pay, it’s for the ministry to provide them with better conditions.

“Well actually pay isn’t coming into the conversations, it’s conditions that are coming into the conversations. We want more support for our children,” she said.

“The needs of our children coming in, especially after COVID is so high that pay is actually at the bottom of the want list basically. We need support, teachers are crying out for support.”

Mark Williamson, senior manager of employment relations and pay equity at the Ministry of Education, said the disruption of learners should be avoided if possible.

“We have been working through PPTA’s priorities with them over recent months and made some progress towards a renewed offer when we met the PPTA again at the start of this month,” Williamson said in a statement.

“However, there are still some outstanding issues, and we are seeking to meet the union again so that we can make that offer in advance of further strike action on 16 March.”

Education Minister Jan Tinetti said she has huge respect for teachers and is disappointed there has been a breakdown in negotiations.

She wouldn’t comment on the strike because of the collective bargaining process, but has been assured the Ministry is focused on reaching settlements for teachers and principals that address key priorities and give members certainty for the future.

Watch the full interview with Maiana McCurdy in the video above.

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