“As school prepare to return for the New Year, ACT is calling on the Government to adopt our Teaching Excellence Reward Fund (TERF), says ACT’s Education spokesperson Chris Baillie.

“Many New Zealanders can recall a teacher who made a real difference in their lives through their commitment and dedication. Unfortunately, compulsory union contracts mean the teachers who go the extra mile are paid the same as those who show up just to eat their lunch.

“Teachers are rewarded for years on the job rather than excellence. To combat this, ACT would establish a $250 million annual fund that will be allocated to schools, based on the number of teachers at that school.

“Principals will oversee the Teaching Excellence Reward Fund. They would have discretion to provide awards to teachers who have demonstrated excellence. There is no formula imposed by Government, this is not ‘performance pay’ it is an Excellence Reward Fund that a principal can use over and above normal salaries, just like any boss of a small to medium enterprise is in charge of remuneration.

“Principals, who are accountable to their Board of Trustees, will be able to provide awards to any teacher in their school, including managers and other members of the senior leadership team. This would be on top of the current teacher remuneration framework.

“I was a teacher for 22 years. I watched as some teachers put in minimal effort but were paid the same as those who prepared well and went the extra mile.

“This fund will motivate many teachers to go the extra mile for our kids and will reward those who already do.

“All too often teachers move out of classroom roles where they excel and into middle management so they can get a pay rise. This fund would keep our best teachers in the classroom.

“The fund would reward exceptional efforts and performance of teaching staff, extracurricular involvement and acknowledge high performance in middle management.

“Principals could also use it to attract hard to staff subjects. The future of our country depends on students doing well in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM). However, teachers with STEM qualifications are often harder to attract because they have higher earning potential elsewhere. 

“With total discretion, a principal could reward a top performing teacher with an extra, say, $15,000. The effect of the policy would be to seriously change the range or people considering teaching.

“A school could contribute more to the fund through its own efforts of fund raising and donations.”