With hundreds of teaching vacancies causing disruption as children return to school, it’s time we allowed schools to ditch union contracts and pay the best teachers what they are worth, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“At the 2017 election, ACT called for an almost $1 billion funding increase for schools that abandoned nationally-negotiated union contracts. This would be easily achievable by cutting wasteful spending. We could free up $340 million from Fees Free, $1 billion from the Provincial Growth Fund, and $450 million from the Winter Energy Payments – at least $1.79 billion a year – by ending these wasteful programmes.

“Good teachers help kids reach their full potential. Unfortunately, because of union contracts, teachers hit maximum pay after ten years, schools can’t reward successful teachers, and teaching isn’t seen as a viable career for our brightest graduates.

“The best teachers earn the same as the worst. Teachers only earn more by taking on administrative work, and spending less time actually teaching kids.

“It’s no wonder that so few graduates are entering the profession, or are deserting it, when initiative and hard work are not rewarded.

“ACT wants the best teachers to stay in the classroom. We will give principals $975 million to pay good teachers more, without cutting government services or raising taxes.

“We would achieve this by cutting waste in Wellington – Fees Free, the Provincial Growth Fund, and Winter Energy Payments would all go.

“Schools would be eligible for this funding if they abandon nationally-negotiated union contracts. This will make it easier for principals to replace bad teachers with great ones.

“Collective agreements and rigid pay structures have prevented schools from paying good teachers what they are worth.

“ACT’s Good Teacher Grants will boost teachers’ pay by $20,000 on average, and elevate teaching as a profession, to attract the best graduates to teach our children and keep the most capable teachers in the classroom.”