Circular 2020/04 - Variation to the Support Staff in Schools' Collective Agreement - Settlement of the Teacher Aide Pay Equity Claim

Date 30 June 2020 | Circular 2020/04 | Category Employment Relations

This circular is about the recent variation to the Support Staff in Schools' Collective Agreement which implements the settlement of the Teacher Aide Pay Equity Claim. It also provides information about the applicable Individual Employment Agreement (IEA).

This circular does not replace any other.

The action needed is to note the contents of the circular and complete the requirements concerning Individual Employment Agreements, if applicable.

It is intended for Chairpersons of boards of trustees and principals of all state and state-integrated schools.

For more information contact the New Zealand School Trustees Association about human resource issues generally on 0800 782 435. Email the Ministry of Education's Employment Relations Unit: All collective agreements for school staff can be found on the Ministry's website:


Following an extensive collaborative process, the NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry of Education concluded that the remuneration of teacher aides was affected by sex-based undervaluation. To rectify this, the NZEI Te Riu Roa, the Ministry and representatives of both employers and employees entered into the Teacher Aide Pay Equity Settlement Agreement (“Settlement Agreement”).

The Support Staff in Schools’ Collective Agreement (“Collective Agreement”) has been varied to incorporate the changes introduced by the Settlement Agreement.

This circular provides a summary of the changes and new provisions agreed. The full collective agreement can be downloaded from the Ministry of Education’s website, and printed copies will be available from the New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA).

Key information for schools

The varied Support Staff in Schools’ Collective Agreement 2019-2022 is available here:

The conditions of employment that have been varied by the settlement automatically apply to teacher aide employees who are union members.

Employees who are not union members but whose work falls within the coverage clause of the collective agreement will have to be offered and accept the new IEA to access the applicable terms and conditions of the varied collective agreement and the pay equity settlement.

The IEA is only valid if both the employer and the employee sign it and schools will need to advise Novopay.

The new IEA is available on the Ministry’s website. It is expected that all non-union member staff will have had the opportunity to accept a new IEA with the new rates of pay by the end of Term 3.  If schools do not offer staff the new pay equity rates, the additional pay equity funding provided specifically for this purpose will be recovered.

Teacher aides who are union members or have signed the new IEA will receive the new pay equity rates in November 2020, backdated to 12 February 2020.

Employers are required to inform new employees that a collective agreement exists and provide them with a copy of the agreement, as well as information regarding how to contact and join the relevant union. New employees who are not members of the union must be employed on an IEA based on the applicable collective agreement for the first 30 days of employment, after which they can choose to remain on the IEA or join the applicable union and become bound by the collective agreement.

In the event a Board has concerns and/or questions regarding its employment arrangements with individual employees, the Board should contact NZSTA’s Advisory and Support Centre at 0800 782 or or its own employment adviser.

Further information, including answers to initial questions that schools may have about the settlement is available online here.

Key features of the variation to the Support Staff in Schools’ Collective Agreement

Schools should refer to the varied collective agreement for the full details of all conditions which have changed.

Teacher Aide Work Matrix (refer clause 3A.3.3)

The Work Matrix Table sets out the most common skills, responsibilities and demands that apply to teacher aides working within Grade A, Grade B, Grade C or Grade D. The Work Matrix Table will apply from 12 February 2020.

  General support Additional support Te Ao Māori
Grade A Follows structured programmes, lesson plans and activities
  • Works with students under teacher supervision on a set variety of standardised and specified tasks e.g. Early Words, SRA reading programme.
  • Assists students to stay on task.
  • Monitors and observes students and acts to build trusting relationships with students and colleagues.
  • Responsible for own work under regular supervision although may show others how to perform tasks as part of their orientation.
  • Collaborates with others in their team.
  • Prepares resources required by the class e.g. photocopying, laminating, paint preparation.
  • Respects and accommodates language, heritage and cultures in a multi-cultural environment.
Supports learner's well-being, health and safety
  • Primary responsibility of the role is the health and safety of a student/s and may perform simple tasks related to feeding, personal hygiene and/or monitoring and observing these students inside or outside the classroom.
  • Requires some familiarity and ability to function on an informal basis in a Māori cultural context AND/OR 
  • Respects, accommodates and has some basic knowledge of  Māori language/pronunciation, culture, beliefs, values and heritage and an interest and commitment to further develop their reo.
Core skills will include: listening, patience, empathy, encouraging and resilience.


  General support Additional support Te Ao Māori
Grade B Follows structured programmes but can make minor adaption and creates activities
  • Works with individual students and small groups delivering a range of subjects and topics OR works more in depth in a single or limited range of subjects.
  • Will make minor adaptions to lesson plans and resources to ensure learning objectives are achieved and in response to individual student needs.
  • Designs activities to supplement programmes.
  • Supports inclusion in school and amongst peers and takes appropriate action to support students’ wellbeing.
  • Has more day to day independence although will have regular conversations with colleagues.
  • Has occasional supervisory responsibility for other employees, parent help or volunteers.
  • Uses a language other than English in daily conversations to provide assistance or respond to needs.
  • Uses multi-cultural knowledge to guide students and colleagues or develop rapport.
Directly supports students with specific health, behavioural and/or other needs
  • Provides direct support for specific health, behavioural and/or other needs of student/s in order to enhance the student’s ability to integrate, improve, be independent and participate more fully in the school
  • Implements behavioural, physiotherapy, and/or occupational therapy programmes as
    prescribed by specialists.
  • Responsible for a range of physical care and will be required to ensure the students’
    dignity is maintained.
  • Precision in providing care and safe handling is required.
  • If responsible for behavioural needs students, must be constantly monitoring for escalating behaviours and diffuse these situations.

Supporting, guiding reo and tikanga

  • Adapts and prepares te reo Māori resources and activities to support programmes.
  • Uses te reo Māori in daily conversations to provide assistance or respond to needs.
  • Supports teachers by guiding students and colleagues in tikanga on marae and during pōwhiri
  • Participates in activities that encourage kaitiakitanga.
  • Supports and encourages the use of te reo in the classroom.
Additional skills at this level may include: active listening, calmness, tact.


  General support Additional support Te Ao Māori
Grade C

Independently delivers ongoing programmes with ability to adapt as required

  • Has a high level of day to day independence which includes planning tasks and activities and clear accountability for delivering specific programmes to agreed standards.
  • Will involve tailoring, testing, adapting and creating individual plans and resources within the programme.
  • Provides regular provision of coaching and mentoring, guidance and training to other employees.
  • Will identify and take action to understand the causes of students’ emotional states and provide appropriate support or alert others where escalation is required.
  • Provides cultural leadership which requires specific language skills, knowledge and expertise. Translates resources and materials into languages other than English 
  • Provides translation support for students.

Supports students with complex health, behavioural and/or other needs

  • Specific expertise requiring active intervention to support students with additional needs. These needs include some or all of medical, behavioural, academic, pastoral and personal care. Skills may include learned  physiotherapy techniques, proficiency in braille, sign, Makaton, and medical support e.g. mic-key. 
  • If responsible for behavioural needs students, must be constantly vigilant for escalating behaviours and defuses difficult situations which may pose risks to themselves or others e.g.: deescalating to avoid the need for restraint.
  • Supports a student’s wellbeing by engaging with family to address identified pastoral issues and enhance the student’s ability to attend school and/or participate. This would include assisting new migrants with their transition into Aotearoa New Zealand culture and environment.

Speaks and role models te reo

  • Delivers te reo Māori programmes including adapting and preparing resources and activities.
  • Translates resources and learning materials into te reo Māori.
  • Speaks te reo Māori when  representing the school in the community.
  • Coordinates and delivers kapa haka and/or other Māori arts programmes.
  • Uses knowledge of students’ background and whānau in order to make connections and provide appropriate support.
  • Works with whānau and kaiako to support and encourage students’ learning.
  • Provides leadership at cultural events.
Additional skills may include: ongoing mentoring, emotional engagement, de-escalating difficult situations, negotiation and/or persuasion.


  General support Additional support Te Ao Māori
Grade D

Creates, plans and delivers ongoing programmes requiring strong technical proficiency and skills

  • Develops programmes, lesson plans and associated resources.
  • Develops and organises or has a major collaboration role in a number of complex activities or programmes requiring the development and approval of longer term plans.
  • The role de-escalates emotionally charged situations and overcomes significant barriers to learning by employing a wide range of techniques and competencies over time.
  • The role has permanent supervision of other Teacher Aides or support staff.
  • Requires immersion in at least two cultures and provides leadership across cultural boundaries.

Provides highly specialised support for students with complex health, behavioural and/or other needs

  • Highly specialised skills are required to provide services to students with highly complex needs.
  • In-depth understanding of the students’ conditions and capabilities involves the independent or shared responsibility to amend, adjust or modify the level and type of support in response to progress or change.
  • Formulates programmes for student/s.
  • Leads crisis management interventions.
  • The role de-escalates extreme emotionally charged situations and overcomes significant barriers to learning by employing a wide range of techniques and competencies over time.
  • If working with behavioural students will need to be aware and respond to unpredictable behaviours where there are significant risks of harm to the student or others.
  • Provides pastoral support, services or cultural liaison to student families on the school’s behalf, to enable them to engage with education, integrate into the community and/or access appropriate community assistance.

A strong leader and advocate for te reo Māori in the kura and community

  • Plans, coordinates develops and delivers learning programmes to support students’ achievement in Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.
  • Teaches subjects from Marau ā-kura in the national or local curriculum.
  • Provides expert advice and guidance to teachers on te reo Māori, tikanga and/or how best to work with Māori students.
  • Supports Kaiako and works with whānau to address serious issues of physical, emotional and/or mental wellbeing of students.
  • The role requires a high level of fluency and good tikanga to apply a broad application of te reo Māori skills, customary concepts and traditions together with the ability to function effectively in Māori culture.
  • Provides leadership in the school and/or community.
Additional skills at this level may include: de-escalating extreme emotionally charged situations, complex planning, leadership.

Remuneration (refer clause 3A.4.3)

The table below outlines the changes to the printed rates for Teacher Aides employed under the work matrix above.

The new pay rates will apply from 12 February 2020.

A series of fact sheets have been developed to further explain the pay scale and translation process(external link)

Tiaki Allowance (refer clause 5.4)

As part of the pay equity settlement, there will now be two types of tiaki allowance paid to teacher aides employed under the work matrix – frequent and occasional. Both are funded on an ongoing basis as a result of this settlement. No employee can receive more than one type of allowance.

For frequent/ongoing responsibilities:
Where the employee is required to provide personal care by cleaning up a student soiled with vomit, or excreta, urine or blood (other than blood associated with minor cuts and abrasions and minor nose bleeds) as part of their ongoing responsibilities that occurs at least once per day or five times in any week, the employee shall be paid an hourly allowance at the rate of 10% of step 5 of Grade B-C (currently $2.59) The hourly allowance in shall be paid for all hours worked, regardless of whether cleaning of bodily fluids is actually required.

For occasional instances:
Where the employee is required to provide personal care by cleaning up a student soiled with vomit, or excreta, urine or blood (other than blood associated with minor cuts and abrasions and minor nose bleeds) in the course of their duties on an occasional or one-off basis, the employee shall be paid an allowance of $4.81 per incident to a maximum payable of once per day.

Variation of Hours (refer clause 2.5.1A)

The employer’s ability to vary teacher aides’ hours of work and/or weeks worked per year is now restricted to a maximum variation of 25% of the hours/weeks the employee is currently employed to work in any 12 month period. For any variation in excess of 25%, the surplus staffing provisions will apply. The employer and employee may agree to vary over and above the 25% maximum without incurring the surplus staffing provisions.

Professional Learning and Development Fund for Teacher Aides

The Support Staff in Schools’ Collective Agreement settlement established a teacher aide learning and development fund.

The Professional Learning and Development Fund for Teacher Aides will be enhanced, increasing the fund from $0.790 million to $2.29 million over 18 months with an effective implementation date of 1 July 2020.

Further information regarding this fund is available on the Teacher PLD Fund webpage(external link).

Additional Information

The parties have identified workforce matters set out in Schedule 7 of the Settlement Agreement(external link) that the parties have agreed to progress under the Accord process. These include reviewing how the schools are funded for teacher aides and career pathways and qualifications.

Additionally, NZEI Te Riu Roa and NZSTA will work to gather information on fixed term employment use with a view to develop and deliver resources and teacher aide specific advice for employers regarding the use of fixed term agreements.


Issued by

Mark Williamson, Senior Manager Employment Relations and Pay Equity, Education Workforce, Early Learning and Student Achievement
Ministry of Education, National Office, Mātauranga House, 33 Bowen Street, Wellington 6011
PO Box 1666, Wellington 6140, New Zealand, Phone 04-463 8000, Email

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