What is it about this Government and the education system? Whether John Key and his Cabinet like it or not, some of their less popular and questionable decisions have related to schools and teachers.
National Standards, which I believe does have some merits but was maybe not implemented correctly, was not universally accepted by schools and teachers. Then there was the time they tried to make class sizes bigger, only to encounter an angry backlash from parents. Now Novopay.
All new systems have teething problems when they are introduced, but the Novopay debacle - and that is what it is - has been going on too long.
Teachers and principals have a right to feel angry and frustrated. If you are employed and work as you are required to, you have a right to expect to be paid on time and by the correct amount - not too much and certainly not too little. The fact that many of the glitches occurred during the Christmas holidays, when teachers should have been enjoying a well-earned break, makes things even worse.
Although the mess should not have been allowed to happen in the first place, credit must go to Mr Key for at last trying to fix the situation. He has made his go-to-guy Stephen Joyce the minister in charge of Novopay, and Mr Joyce announced last Thursday that there would be a ministerial inquiry and technical audit of the payroll system.
He said a contingency plan was being investigated, which could include scrapping the system and replacing it with Datacom - the previous payroll provider. However, disposing of Novopay would not be taken lightly.
It is incredible that Novopay was signed off, despite reportedly having nearly 150 known faults.
Hawke's Bay Primary Principals Association president Rohan Pearse is right when he says that ongoing errors with the system are unacceptable. The Mahora School principal said his school still had staff who had been overpaid and underpaid.
I can accept that the ministerial inquiry needs time to access the situation, but it is a matter of urgency. Hopefully, Mr Fix-it Joyce can sort it out because, as they have shown in the past, schools and teachers can be a very powerful force.