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Source: Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA)

Advice on surplus staffing from PPTA’s intrepid field officers.

Teacher staffing numbers in any school are determined by a roll-based allocation from the government, but are often increased by use of local funds.

By the end of term three this year your school should have received its staffing allocation for 2021.  This can trigger a surplus staffing process if a school is required to reduce teacher numbers and/or units and management allowances.

Both the Secondary and Area Schools Teachers’ Collective Agreements contain provisions that must be followed if staffing needs to be reduced. 

Your employer must keep you informed

The first step is that your employer, usually the principal, must tell you if your school is in a surplus staffing situation.  Contact your field officer if this does happen in your school.  The second step is that the school must follow a specific, fair and objective process before deciding which, if any, teaching positions are to be disestablished or reduced in status.  This is often referred to as the CAPNA process, an acronym for Curriculum and Pastoral Needs Analysis.  There is a range of options are open to any teacher affected by surplus staffing.

Once you have been told of a surplus staffing situation, the employer must attempt to meet any reduction required using attrition.  That is the non-replacement of teachers who might (as examples) resign or retire. 

Calling for volunteers

If attrition is insufficient then the school must try and deal with the reduction by calling for volunteers, who agree to leave in exchange one of three options.  These are:

  1. Supernumerary employment
  2. Retraining, for up to one year.
  3. Long Service Payment,

Details can be found at and in the collective agreements

The CAPNA process

Where attrition and volunteers are insufficient to meet the reduction required then the school moves to a formal CAPNA process.  Here the board will decide which teaching positions are to be disestablished or reduced in status.  As part of this step the board must consult with a nominee of the PPTA national executive.  A full analysis of the current and predicted curriculum and pastoral needs is undertaken and shown to teachers as part of the legal required consultation process.

The board will meet in two stages.  The first to reach some provisional decisions on how the reduction is to be met.  This proposal is put to affected teachers, so they have an opportunity to seek advice, comment and make submissions.  The second stage is for the board to properly consider those responses before making a final decision.

If a teacher’s position is to be disestablished, then that teacher may choose from the three voluntary options described above.  However, those teachers have an additional option of a severance payment, based on length of service.  Where a position is to have units and or management allowances reduced then salary protection for one year is available.

Fixed term teachers are vulnerable

Please note also if a teacher is dissatisfied with a board decision, the member may ask for PPTA to support a personal grievance. 

Fixed term teachers are very vulnerable in a surplus staffing situation because none of the protections are available.

There is a legal requirement that all positions, including board funded should be permanent unless there is a genuine reason based on reasonable grounds.

 If you believe your position should be permanent, please contact your field officer.


This year the Covid-19 pandemic will have a significant impact on surplus staffing, most likely in schools that have relied on the international student income to support additional teacher staffing.  Such teachers are still entitled to all collective agreement protections including the surplus staffing compensation options.  In some cases the board must meet the costs.

Surplus staffing situations can be very stressful, your school should have access to EAP or a similar service.

Remember, if your school is facing a surplus staffing situation, contact your field officer.  We are here to help.

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 September 2020 15:17