Source: Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA)
Out of Hours Music and Art staff are about to join PPTA Te Wehengarua, the first time this workforce has had union coverage in its 50+ year history
Out of Hours Music and Art classes have been a part of the music and art community in New Zealand for the past 50 years. These classes allow state schools to offer thousands of young people the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and discover art on a Saturday morning, without it being unaffordable. These classes take place in about 150 primary and secondary schools, with about 8-10 tutors, coordinators and administrative assistants in each. They are funded by the Ministry of Education through host school boards.
Out of Hours teachers and administrators have not had a wage increase since 2003 when the Ministry then aligned their pay and conditions with the PPTA Adult and Community (ACE) collective agreement of the time. Earlier this year Out of Hours workers approached PPTA to seek ongoing coverage under the ACE collective agreement. This required an amendment to the PPTA constitution which delegates supported at this year’s annual general meeting.
We are now delighted to be in the position to offer union cover to this group of education workers.
The ACE Collective Agreement expires in January 2022, and PPTA is about to begin talks with the Ministry of Education to ensure Out of Hours workers will be included in the new one.
Clear pathway for the future
Michael Greenwood, Supervisor at Marshall Laing Music School in Mt Roskill, says PPTA’s offer of coverage makes Out of Hours workers feel truly supported for the first time in many years. “Over the past 20 years, the Ministry of Education has gradually reduced levels of support for Out of Hours classes and staff.
“Being part of the ACE agreement means that the schools who host music and art classes will have clear guidelines and systems to follow. It also means that wages will not remain stagnant for years and there is a clear pathway for the future of these schools. Some highly experienced itinerant teachers might now come back to teach in these schools.”
The community spirit and love of the work has kept out of hours staff in their jobs, despite the low pay, says Michael. “As a music teacher myself, it can be the best job in the world giving back to students the passion and knowledge you have for your instrument. Out of Hours Music and Art has a history in this country of more than 50 years. These community schools have made lessons more affordable for those who cannot pay private lesson rates.
Low pay accepted as part of profession
“There is certainly a community spirit connected to these schools. Our school has a fun happy atmosphere on a Saturday morning and I think a happy work environment keeps drawing our tutors and staff back.
“Many tutors who currently teach at my school were originally students themselves at the school. I would say this is the same around the country. I think often as teachers and tutors, we have accepted low pay as part and parcel of the profession.”
As well as better wages and conditions, Out of Hours Music and Art schools need more allocated hours, says Michael. “Once we have security around wage rates and conditions, this will be the next step in lobbying the government to better fund music and art education.
“I have had some good leading support from my local MPs Michael Wood and Deborah Russell through whom I was able to bring this to the attention of the government. And I am incredibly grateful for the support of the PPTA who we now feel have our back.”