Factsheet on new offer to primary teachers and principals

The Ministry of Education made significant new Collective Agreement offers to nearly 30,000 primary teachers and around 2,000 primary principals on 9 November 2018. Then on 27 February 2019 we presented two new options for primary teachers within the total $698 million available.

The Collective Agreement for primary teachers and principals covers the terms and conditions of employment for teachers in state and state integrated primary schools in New Zealand.

Our new offer summary - $698 million

  • The total cost of the revised offer is $698 million over four years, $129 million more than our previous offer.
  • It means most teachers would get between $9,500 and $11,000 extra in their salaries by April 2021 (an average increase of around $10,000).
  • The offer also provides for additional progression on the pay scale.
  • Option 1 for primary teachers (pay): The additional pay step at the top of the base scale offered in November 2018 would come into effect 12 months from the terms of settlement, instead of 24 months as previously offered. This would benefit 9,700 teachers currently on the maximum step of the base salary scale.
  • Option 2 for primary teachers (workload and pay): In addition to the salary increases offered in November 2018, primary teachers would receive an additional 10 hours of classroom release time each year for three years. This would mean that the majority of teachers will benefit from an additional 30 hours of classroom release time for three years, and for those working part time it would be pro-rated.
  • Our previous pay offer made in November 2018 to primary principals is significant and remains open, and now provides new classroom release time for those at smaller schools.


What are the revised salary increases?

  • Primary teachers with a teaching qualification (degree or advanced diploma), would see their base salaries increase from a range of $47,980 to $71,891, to a range of $52,429 to $82,992. At the top of the range this means an increase of $11,101 over the term. This new offer is an increase of $4,435 over the second (August 2018) offer.
  • Primary teachers with both a teaching qualification and a subject degree – for example a Bachelor of Science – would see their base salaries increase from a range of $49,588 to $75,949, to a range of $54,186 to $85,481, At the top of the range this means an increase of $9,532 over the term, $2,489 more than the second (August 2018) offer.
  • Currently, more than one in three teachers (38%) are paid above the top of the base scale. They receive extra payments in recognition of management and leadership responsibilities. For example, a teacher at the top of the scale and receiving one unit for extra responsibilities (worth $4,000) is paid $79,949. After the new offer, this increases to $89,481 by 2021.
  • The offer is a 3% pay increase to teachers’ base salaries each year for the next three years. That is a cumulative increase of 9.3 percent over three years.
  • It also includes an additional step at the top of the scale and an increase to the maximum base salary for all qualification groups.


  • Principals have asked for more support for their colleagues in smaller rural schools. To address this we have now offered an increase to operational grant funding to small schools who currently have an entitlement to fewer than two fulltime equivalent teachers (including the principal). This would ensure all those schools have two fulltime equivalent staff during the school day.
  • We have now offered, in February 2019, to introduce a new entitlement of 10 hours per term classroom release time for those principals in schools of 100 or less students. Principals of these schools usually have a teaching component to their role and the offer would provide additional time outside of the classroom.

Our offer to Principals:

  • A new principal of a school with 50 students or fewer would see their roll-based salary component salary increase from $81,553, to $85,223. That would increase to $89,058 in 2020 and $92,976 in 2021.
  • A principal with at least nine-years’ experience leading a school of 851-1025 students would see their core remuneration (made up of the roll-based component, the base leadership payment and a career payment) increase from $135,517 to $139,216. It would then increase to $143,027 in 2021 and $146,951 in 2021.
  • All primary principals would receive 3% per year for three years. That’s a cumulative increase of 9.3%.
  • Principals at the smallest and harder to staff schools (under 100 students) would receive increases of 4.5% each year for two years, and 4.4% for the third year, a cumulative increase of 14%.

The first pay increase would take effect when the collective agreement is settled, the second increase 12 months later and the third 24 months later.

We are also addressing teachers’ concerns outside the collective bargaining process:

Teacher Supply - $40 million:

  • In October 2018 the Government committed a further $10.5 million for initiatives to boost teacher supply. This is on top of the $29.5 million for supply initiatives already announced in 2017.
  • This funding supports initiatives that will support more new graduates into permanent teaching positions, help experienced teachers get back into the profession, attract New Zealand teachers back from overseas, and encourage qualified overseas-trained qualified teachers to come and teach in New Zealand.
  • Primary teacher retention rates continue to remain high at over 90%.
  • As to encouraging more New Zealanders into teaching, the decline in the number of people training to be teachers (ITE enrolments) has been slowing, and our most recent information suggests that that enrolments have increased from 2017 to 2018 by 330 (8%) and look likely to have increased again this year.

Progress with new initiatives includes:

  • Allocating 230 new National Beginning Teacher Grants to 170 schools to increase their recruitment of graduate teachers.
  • As at 3 March 2019, the overseas recruitment campaign has resulted in 10,045 applications received, 4,411 have been assessed and 520 qualified primary candidates have been screened and made available to principals for immediate interview. Of these, 145 primary teachers have accepted roles so far. Schools have lodged 97 primary vacancies with our recruitment agencies.

Progress with ongoing initiatives includes:

  • Expanding the Voluntary Bonding Scheme to Decile 1 – 3 state and state-integrated schools in Auckland and to new teachers in shortage subjects e.g. sciences, maths, with the purpose of supporting graduates who have recently started teaching.
  • Since January 2018, helping more than 620 primary teachers enrol in the Government paid for Teacher Education Refresh programme to either return or remain in the profession.
  • Assisting 80 TeachFirst NZ scholarship participants to start schools in 2019 and 2020, and 60 Beginning Teachers taking up roles through the Auckland Beginning Teacher Project. As well as increasing the opportunities to apply for scholarships to three times a year, which encourage teaching in areas that include science, technology, maths, Te Reo Māori and Māori medium. The first round in October 2018, awarded 175 scholarships.
  • Since January 2018, approving 57 grants to New Zealand primary trained teachers to enable them to claim expenses incurred in returning to New Zealand to teach.

Learning Support - $500 million

  • Budget 18 provided $283 million additional funding for Learning Support. The Government then announced a further $217 million commitment to fund 600 new Learning Support Coordinators for schools.
  • The Learning Support Coordinators will work alongside classroom teachers in schools and kura to strengthen their learning support capability, and lead school and kura-wide engagement with parents and whānau. This funding will allow about 1,000 schools (including primary schools / secondary schools) to have a full or part time Coordinator from 2020. Planning for a second tranche of Coordinators will begin after schools have implemented the first 600 roles.
  • The Budget 18 funding will invest in these learning support initiatives: Early Intervention (to recruit more specialists, increase places, and increase study awards); increased funding for teacher aides; expansion of the Te Kahu Tōī intensive wraparound service to 365 students; and addressing cost pressures for the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme for about 1,000 additional students, supporting sensory schools and New Zealand Sign Language services for deaf, hard-of-hearing and low-vision students.

What about workload?

The Government has a wide range of work underway, which will help to address workload including:

  • A $40 million investment to increase teacher supply with initiatives encouraging more domestically trained teachers and an overseas recruitment campaign for qualified teachers.
  • The Government has already removed National Standards in response to teachers’ claims it was a large driver of workload.
  • Working with the sector to develop an Education Workforce strategy to consider the nature of the wider education workforce needed to support principals and teachers to do their best work, and give them more time to teach. The strategy is due to be completed in July 2019 and an implementation plan developed by September 2019. 
  • A joint taskforce (which includes members of NZEI and NZPF) is identifying compliance-related administrative tasks that can be reduced or eliminated to free up time for principals to lead and teachers to teach.
  • An Education Professionals’ Wellbeing Framework is being developed, with the aim of better supporting teachers and principals, as well as raising awareness of wellbeing resources. The Ministry and sector groups, including NZEI, are working together towards developing a plan to share and implement the Framework, along with tools, resources and initiatives more broadly with the wider education sector.
  • We are also reviewing how teachers assess student learning and their progress, which teachers have told us also impacts on workload and their ability to focus on teaching.
  • Reviewing how we think about the curriculum and understanding progress children make at different stages and achievement with the sector, which will inform thinking about resourcing for different year levels.
  • Budget 18 provided an extra $59 million for teacher aides. The NZEI and the Ministry are currently engaged in a pay equity inquiry for teacher aides.

How many primary teachers and principals are there?

There are around 30,000 primary teachers including relievers and 1,943 primary principals.

How many students?

The 2017 July roll had 464,442 students enrolled in primary and intermediate (excluding composite and special).

How many schools are there in the primary sector?

There are around 1,943 primary, intermediate and special schools (the school types covered by the primary teachers' and principals’ collective agreements).

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