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Principals plug gaps as unions fight for more resources
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As teacher unions report cautious optimism over direct talks with the Education Minister, Northland principals say they're concerned about a lack of relievers.

Leanne Otene from the Taitokerau Principals Association says a survey of 80 out of the 150 schools found during one week in May there were 415 absent teacher days because of illness or other reasons.

In one in four of those cases a reliever could not be found.

She says many teachers who previously did relieving have taken permanent jobs, and some relievers are also reluctant to travel to remote schools.

Māori units are particularly hard hit.

"The reliving pool for Māori medium is very limited. I have a reo unit in my shcool and when those teachers are away whether it's for professional development or because they are ill it's very difficult and nine times our of ten I can't get a reliever for those classes that speaks te reo," Ms Otene says.

The unions involved in a 10-hour meeting yesterday with Minister Chris Hipkins say constructive progress was made, and the Post Primary Teachers Association called off industrial action planned for next week.


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