New Zealand's Expert Teachers Get $5000 Bonus Pay

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By Reissa Su | June 21, 2013 3:53 PM EST

The primary and intermediate teachers union in New Zealand has signed a deal with the government to give 800 expert teachers allowances worth $4 million.  The union said the allowance will mark the beginning of performance pay.

School principals will be tasked to recommend qualified teachers based on a set of criteria based on the curriculum of New Zealand.  A panel will assess teachers for allowance qualification.  The members of the panel are yet to be decided. 

The New Zealand Educational Institute union members say they brought the idea of an allowance before the Education Ministry to reward experienced teachers.  The union also asked for more allowances for the competent teaching staff.   

The Primary Teachers Collective Agreement took effect on June 7 after several long negotiations with the Education Ministry.  Called the "advanced classroom expertise teacher allowance",  it will be given to only 800 expert teachers by 2015.  The qualified teachers will come from 2000 primary and intermediate schools.  The pay bonus will be worth $5000 a year.

If an eligible teacher is found to be inconsistent in meeting the criteria or there are lapses in performance, the school can withhold the allowance.  If teachers leave the school, allowances will also stop.

More negotiations

In the next pay negotiations with the Ministry, the union plans to ask for more allowances for deserving teachers.  Union president Judith Nowotarski confirms the bonus plan and sees it would be treated as start of performance pay for New Zealand's education sector. 

Nowotarski also said pay cuts are possible for new and entry-level teachers with low pay scale increases.  She said negotiations always have comprises and the pay cut may be one of them. 

Teachers who will be given allowances would have to be earning $57,306, classroom experts and belong to scale 8 of the collective agreement.  Top teachers could send their applications for the $5000 allowance.  They can also get up to 3 per cent increase in salary. 

A worldwide survey participated by 3500 workers in New Zealand say almost half of the respondents believe they will be motivated to perform better if their pay is linked with productivity or performance.  The survey also said that New Zealand provides one of the lowest performance-based pay among nations in Asia-Pacific.  

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