Advocacy Articles

Technicians as Lab Managers 

by Ian de Stigter
March 2022

Survey data show that increasing numbers of Science Technicians have taken on a Laboratory
Manager role. This is likely to continue, especially if the value of that role is better defined,
and the funding found, to enable this to be an opportunity for advancement. However, there
has been a lack of resourcing and support from the Ministry of Education for hazardous
substance management in State and Integrated schools under the 2007 Code of Practice.
Moreover, this situation has not improved since the 2015 Safety at Work Act and its 2017
Hazardous Substances Regulations have been promulgated. Read more….


School Science Technician and Librarian Pay Relativity to the average hourly wage, 1989-2020

by Ian de Stigter
April 2021

Data from all-sectors ordinary-time average hourly wage data was obtained from the
Quarterly Employment Survey produced by Statistics NZ, and this is compared in the graph
below against the maximum hourly wage indicated for school Science Technicians and
Librarians in the various collective contract pay scales from 1989 to2020. Read more….


A Science Technician Pay Equity submission

by Ian de Stigter
February 2020

There is ample evidence that school Science Technicians – in common with other groups of employees who are predominantly women – have traditionally been underpaid. While gender bias may be assumed as a reason for this, appropriate grading determinations and deserved pay increases have also been unduly constrained through school operational underfunding.
To value this group of school employees, we need to establish their calibre; the commitment and skill they show in meeting and exceeding role expectations; and the (often unrecognised) qualifications, enabling experiences, and practiced expertise that make their performance possible.

Read more….


Achieving Chemical Safety in NZ Secondary Schools – A submission on the Tomorrow’s Schools Review Report

by Ian de Stigter
March 2019

The Tomorrow’s Schools Review, though largely focused on governance style as it may determine educational equity, also gives an opportunity to examine and address another issue which arisen – through continued use of a deficient funding formula.
The majority of State and Integrated secondary schools have not in recent years met their legal obligations for hazardous substance management. This is attributed in large part to increased unfunded obligations of schools for chemical safety, during a time when operational costs generally were increasing faster than school operational grants. While schools have made efforts to deal with chemical safety, staff involved
have generally received little or no pay or allotted time. The Ministry of Education has essentially ignored the requirements, and ERO has avoided compliance audits.  Read more….


The 2017 NZ Schools Science Technician Workforce Survey

by Michelle Kiernan and Ian de Stigter
November 2017

Proposed changes to tertiary training of science technicians are considered unlikely to have much consequence in the school
workplace. Current and earlier workforce survey data are used to examine the school science technician group. Despite expressed
forebodings about an aging population, this technician group has changed little in the last 10 years, and recent recruits are in fact a little
better equipped in level of qualification and relevance of experience.  Read more….


Laboratories and Technicians Report

by Ian de Stigter
November 2015

Data collected through a school science technician survey have been used to assess how well science teaching hours are supported by numbers of
laboratories and technician time. Ratios have been used to relate both numbers of labs and technician hours to teaching hours. Comparisons were
made for State, Integrated and Independent schools. Historical data for technician support show that median technician support has increased in
State and Integrated schools, but has dropped in Independent schools. Lab shortages and limited technician support are indicated in some schools in
each type, particularly in larger State schools, and reasons for this are discussed. Read more…..


Reason and Practicability in Managing Chemical Hazards

by Ian de Stigter and Michelle Kiernan
August 2015

Data collected through an on-line survey of NZ school science technicians established that one quarter of schools have not made (chemical hazard) Laboratory Manager (LM) appointments. LMs are more common in larger schools, and in independent schools, and there is a pronounced regional variation. While a few LMs seem to be appropriately paid and allocated time to fulfill their role, many receive little time or money, and most get none of either. It is therefore not surprising to find that hazard management achievements are relatively modest. ERO and the Ministry of Education have given less support for chemical hazard management than would be expected. Key changes are consequently proposed as necessary in schools with the new hazardous substances management regime to be introduced under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Read more…..


Workplace Change for Science Technicians

by Ian de Stigter
August 2012

School science technicians are involved with a variety of changes which are taking place in their work and workplace, and believe that some further developments there are overdue. Changes have come both from progress in technology and curriculum, and through different resource needs as science teaching methods and assessment requirements evolve. Changes which have taken place, and drivers for further change, are. Read more…..


History of Efforts for Support Staff and Science Technicians

by Ian de Stigter
October 2011

In this report Ian outlines past developments which have been positive for school science technicians, followed by continuing and current professional and employment challenges. Data and resources available to quantify and resolve these issues are described. Strategies are presented which could be used to bring about beneficial change. Read more…..


NZ School Science Technician Roles

by Ian de Stigter
August 2010

Information about New Zealand school science technicians available from surveys is examined, with overseas comparisons. Use of science technicians to minimise the additional workload science teachers have for practical work is at a low level by international standards. The proportion already qualified and experienced when engaged is higher than in Australia and UK. Accessing further training and professional development is however difficult, even for those lacking basic training. Read more….


NZ Secondary School Technician Employment 

by Ian de Stigter

August 2007

Abstract: Ways used by others to determine the amount of technician support for science teaching were considered. A survey of NZ schools was carried out and the service factor ratios calculated. The different values for this measure of teaching support were compared in different-sized state/integrated schools, and in independent schools. The assumption that state and integrated schools could be considered together was checked. Consideration was given to the role of a science technician in a school, and the reasons why larger schools may use proportionately less technician support. A proposal was put forward for a minimum service factor ratio, with the suggestion of central funding the salaries. Read more…


NZ School Science Technician Workforce Survey

by Ian de Stigter
September 2007

An on-line survey of school science technicians was carried out in August-September 2007 to guide future planning for the profession. Survey questions were designed to determine the characteristics of the NZ school science technician workforce, and the environment in which they work. Some of the information can be compared with that in UK and Australian science technician surveys. NZ information on employment hours, from an earlier survey, is also considered. Read more…