Primary teachers

Find out about the pay, allowances, benefits and other entitlements available to primary teachers.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Teachers and kaiako
  • Boards

The rights and responsibilities specified in an employment agreement must be adhered to. This page supports boards and primary teachers to understand the rights and responsibilities that are associated with their roles, as stated in a teacher’s employment agreement.

Employment agreements

Primary teachers in state and state-integrated schools and kura are covered by the terms and conditions of:

  • the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement (PTCA), or
  • an individual employment agreement, with similar terms and conditions as the PTCA.

Who's covered by the PTCA

You're covered by the PTCA if:

  • your work is covered by this agreement and
  • you’re a member of the primary teachers’ union, NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Primary Teachers' Collective Agreement 2023-2025

Who’s covered by the individual employment agreement (IEA)

You need to sign an IEA if:

  • your work is covered by the PTCA, but
  • you’re not a member of the NZEI Te Riu Roa.

The Ministry of Education develops and publishes the IEA. The terms and conditions of your work are similar to the collective agreement.

If you’re a teacher at Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu, check your employment agreement as there are some special employment conditions that apply to you, as set out in part 8 of the collective agreement.

Part 8: Primary Teachers' Collective Agreement

Your pay as a primary teacher

For information about your pay refer to part 3 of the collective agreement.

Part 3: Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement

Your base salary

The amount you can be paid as a teacher depends on your qualifications, experience and whether you qualify for any units or allowances. There is a unified base salary scale for trained teachers across the compulsory sector.

The unified base salary scale is set out in clause 3.2 of the collective agreement.

Clause 3.2: Base Salary Scale

There are four salary groups for trained teachers, each with a minimum and a maximum salary. Your salary group depends on your qualifications.

Untrained primary teacher rates are provided at clause 3.4 of the collective agreement.

New Zealand initial primary teacher education now requires (at a minimum) the completion of:

  • a teaching qualification at Level 7 (for example, Bachelor of Teaching), or
  • an undergraduate subject degree followed by a graduate diploma of teaching (for example, BA plus Graduate Diploma Teaching).

Therefore, all new New Zealand primary teacher graduates will, at a minimum, start at Salary Qualification Group 3. This is considered step one of the trained base salary scale.

Salary qualification group Starting salary Maximum salary NQF* level Example of qualification
3 $59,027 $94,245 7 Bachelor of Teaching
3+ $61,678 $99,216 7 Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diploma of Teaching
4 $64,086 $99,216 8 Honours Degree or Masters of Teaching
5 $68,122 $99,216 9 or 10 Master's or PhD

*NQF = National Qualifications Framework

Before you start teaching, you can apply to have your salary assessed. Your qualifications, registration and previous employment will be used to place you on the correct group and step as set out in the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement.

Information about salary assessment can be found on the EdPay website.

Salary assessment - Education Payroll(external link)

You can earn more than your maximum salary step if you're entitled to units or allowances.

Your pay scale is slightly different if you're a:

  • resource teacher learning and behaviour
  • resource teacher deaf
  • resource teacher vision
  • resource teacher intellectually impaired, or
  • regional health school teacher.

The pay scale is set out in clause 3.6 of the collective agreement.

Clause 3.6: Primary Teachers' Collective Agreement 

Pay rises

An increment is the pay rise you get when you move up a step on your base salary scale. This is on top of base salary increases negotiated through the collective agreement bargaining process.

You'll most likely move up one salary step each year until you reach the maximum salary step for your qualification.

How the increment process works

You're assessed by your School Board or principal against the performance standards in schedule 3 of your employment agreement.

Schedule 3: Primary Teachers' Collective Agreement

If you've met the standards, you move up a salary step on the scale.

If you haven't met the standards, you're given a specific time to do so.

If you haven't met the standards after this time, you don’t move up a salary step. In some cases, competency procedures will be needed.

Salary units

As well as teacher staffing entitlements, schools receive an allocation of salary units. Boards can allocate salary units as a permanent or fixed-term addition to a teacher’s salary.

Currently, each unit is worth $4,500 per annum.  This is set out in clause 3.9 of the collective agreement.

Clause 3.9: Primary Teachers' Collective Agreement

If you're a teacher at Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu, read clause 8.4 of the collective agreement.

Clause 8.4: Primary Teachers' Collective Agreement


You may also qualify for allowances as follows:

Advanced classroom expertise teacher (ACET) allowance

Associate teacher allowance

Isolation allowance

Māori immersion allowance

Normal school allowance

Priority teacher supply allowance

Resource teacher learning and behaviour allowance

Staffing incentive allowance

Pacific bilingual immersion teaching allowance

Cultural leadership allowance

Special duties increment allowance

Bus controller's allowance

Kāhui Ako teacher across community allowance

Kāhui Ako teacher within school and responsibility allowance

These are set out in part 3 of your employment agreement.

Part 3: Primary Teachers' Collective Agreement

If you’re a teacher at Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu refer to clauses 8.6 and 8.7 of the collective agreement for more information about off-site allowances and travelling allowances.

Clauses 8.6: Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement

Clauses 8.7: Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement

Recruitment, retention and responsibility (3R) allowance

Your school board may pay you a 3R allowance to recognise an extra responsibility that you take on, or to achieve recruitment or retention goals. Boards need to consult with teaching staff about the allocation of these payments.

The 3R payment is $2,750 per annum for primary teachers and can be paid permanently or for a fixed term, as set out in clause 3.26 of the collective agreement.

Clause 3.26: Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement

Braille or New Zealand Sign Language allowance

If you’re a full-time teacher at an eligible school, you may be entitled to an allowance that recognises your qualifications and abilities in teaching using New Zealand Sign Language or Braille.

This allowance is set out in clause 3.29 of the collective agreement.

Clause 3.29: Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement

Mentor teacher allowance

If you’re a fully registered teacher and you‘re mentoring a provisionally registered first or second year teacher, you can be paid a tutor teacher allowance.

The amount is either $4,000 per annum or $1,000 per annum, depending on the number of hours that the provisionally registered teacher is employed each week, as set out in clause 3.27 of the collective agreement.

Clause 3.27: Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement


Leave entitlements, including sick, parental, bereavement (tangihanga), study, refreshment and sabbatical leave are set out in part 4 of the collective agreement. Your school can also allow discretionary leave for various activities.

Leave for principals and teachers

Other benefits and entitlements

You’re entitled to a superannuation contribution from your employer.

Superannuation for principals and teachers(external link)

If you move schools because you’re promoted, or you move to work in a ‘hard to staff’ school, you may qualify for a payment to help cover your transfer and removal payment to help cover your costs.

If you're shifting schools

Classroom release time (CRT)

Full-time teachers are entitled to CRT each term as follows:

  • until the end of Term 4, 2023, 10 hours per term,
  • from the start of Term 1, 2024, 15 hours per term,
  • from the start of Term 3, 2024, 20 hours per term,
  • from the start of Term 1, 2025, 25 hours per term.

Every part-time teacher employed for at least 0.8 FTTE per week who is either permanently employed or a long-term reliever employed for at least a term, is entitled to receive a prorated amount of the classroom release time described above available to full-time teachers.

For example, a teacher working 0.8 is entitled to 12 hours of release time, and a teacher working 0.9 is entitled to 13.5 hours.

From Term 1, 2025 every primary teacher who holds one or more permanent units will be entitled to ten hours classroom release per term. This is in addition to general classroom release time entitlements.

Clause 3.28: Classroom release time for teachers

Guidelines for Classroom Release Time has been prepared by NZEI, NZSTA and the Ministry of Education to help school boards design their school’s policy for classroom release time entitlement and use.

Classroom Release Time - Best Practice Guidance [PDF, 116 KB]

Working when school is closed

You may be required to work at times when the school is closed to students:

  • for professional development, or
  • duties such as administration, preparation, planning, and parent, whānau and community liaison.

Your employment agreement sets a maximum of 10 days in a school year when you can work when the school is closed, as set out in clause 2.10.3 of the collective agreement.

When your board asks you to work on a closed day, they must take into account whether you've already undertaken professional development or carried out various tasks in your own time.

Clause 2.10.3: Primary Teachers' Collective Agreement(external link)

Leaving your job

Both you and your school must follow the correct processes and procedures to manage your resignation, dismissal or retirement.

Resignation, dismissal and retirement

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