- Sue Poole heads to union conference in Brussels
OPOTIKI College literary support person Susan Poole is New Zealand’s sole delegate at an education support staff conference in Brussels in May.
Ms Poole is also a college board of trustees member and a national executive representative for support staff with NZEI Te Riu Roa, New Zealand’s largest education union.
“This is a huge opportunity,” she said.
“In terms of going forward with education, the world looks at New Zealand.”
Ms Poole said she had worked with teacher support “since forever” and that education support people were traditionally seen as “less than”.
“This conference is a historic event, marking the first time that unionists from around the world have come together to assert the rights of education support personnel.”
Admitting to feeling a little nervous, Ms Poole said Opotiki College principal Susan Impey was very supportive of her going on the three-day conference, which starts on May 16.
“I am going from little old Opotiki to Brussels on a conference that will have thousands of attendees,” she said.
“I am honoured to attend this conference, representing support staff from across New Zealand.”
Ms Poole said education support staff filled a variety of roles in schools across the world.
“These roles promote quality education, foster positive learning environments and ensure that schools function effectively,” she said.
“Yet, we are often an invisible group in the workforce.”
However, there was increased recognition on the horizon.
“Both pay equity and central funding from the Ministry of Education are set to happen,” Ms Poole said.
“We are in negotiations with the ministry.”
Ms Poole said she was invited by Education International to attend the conference.
Her flights, accommodation and conference fee was paid for by NZEI Te Riu Roa.
“I’ll be taking all our support staff with me in spirit.”
EDUCATION International is a global union federation of teachers’ trade unions consisting of 401 member organisations in 172 countries that represent more than 30 million education personnel from pre-school through university.
Founded in 1992, its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.
The organisation’s president is Susan Hopgood, who is also the federal secretary of the Australian Education Union.