Department of Education funding for high needs students “woefully insufficient” | 1 NEWS


The principal of Arakura School calls the Ministry of Education’s funding for students with high needs “woefully insufficient”.

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Funding for teacher assistants who help our most needy students is described as woefully inadequate. Source: 1 NEWS

The Department of Education caps the hourly rate for teacher assistant support for these students at $ 23, leaving schools that employ teacher assistants who are higher on the pay scale struggling to cover part of the deficit with funds from other budgets.

Since teacher assistants won pay increases in a historically fair salary settlement last year, schools have been receiving additional installment funding to cover the difference between the 2019 pay scale rate and the current pay equity rate. Regardless of the specific funding source of the Ministry of Education.

Arakura school principal Tute Porter-Samuels said it helped, but for experienced teacher assistants, who were earning more than the Department of Education’s hourly teacher assistant support rate in 2019, there is still a gap that schools need to fill.

Porter-Samuels said this works out to about a few dollars an hour for every hour that one of the four students at the school eligible for ORS (Ongoing Resourcing Scheme) funding has a funded teacher assistant, which is several. thousands of dollars a year. .

“When you’re a small school, every dollar really matters because for every dollar you invest in experienced and skilled workers, you know that our teacher assistants who work in the classroom are money that can’t. go into other equally important areas such as the equipment in our classrooms, the consumables that our teachers need for their teaching, ”said Porter-Samuels.

“I have to constantly weigh this. ”

Porter-Samuels says this is another example of learning support funding not meeting demand for classroom support.

“It’s increasing in terms of the needs of children with varying needs in the classroom and so our teacher assistants play a really vital role alongside our teachers. ”

“I have to fill in the hours that they (RHA students) receive as well as the gap between complementing the Ministry and where they (teacher assistants) are in terms of experience and skills on the scale.” salary. said Porter-Samuels.

She said schools are responsible for providing rich, inclusive and culturally appropriate learning environments, but the ability to deliver results in all areas is affected by inadequate funding.

“Resources to support our Pacific and Maori learners… this is Matariki and we are working to find resources to support our teaching at this really important time of year. ”

Porter-Samuels said it was “difficult” to know that teachers are spending personal money to pay for classroom resources and that she cannot change the situation as much as she would like.

“For me it is the responsibility of the education system… it is an investment in our children and in their future and therefore the future of our nation and yet it is woefully inadequate and it looks good at the highest level and I guess what i mean is it’s wrong.

Maraea Toko, mother of Akasha, a student at Arakura school, who is entitled to 13 hours of teacher assistant funding per week but receives 20 hours and the school provides more, said students are not receiving enough aid although they are the future of the country.

Toko said her daughter is not verbal, she speaks for her daughter when she can’t on her own.

“When she (teacher’s assistant) is there she has a really good bond with my daughter, it’s really hard to bond with a child with autism unless he or she has taken this time,” he said. she declared.

The Department of Education increased the hourly funding rate for teacher assistants for targeted student support from $ 21.85 for schools with more than 101 students to $ 23 on Thursday. It has also increased the rate by one dollar each year since 2018, said David Wales, national director of learning support.

Schools with a small enrollment receive a slightly higher hourly rate to attract teacher assistants because these schools may have more difficulty recruiting, according to an agency statement.

Wales said the teacher assistants’ hourly funding rate for a student eligible for higher support is a “contribution” to the cost of employing a teacher assistant.

“Schools decide what rate they pay TAs and it’s up to them to decide if they want to pay on top of the available funds,” he said.

“Teacher assistants don’t work in isolation, they work as part of a team of people around a student, including the classroom teacher, maybe a specialist teacher, perhaps a specialist aide from the ministry. .

“So you have to consider the needs of this student – there isn’t necessarily one formula that would work for all experienced teacher assistants. ”

NZEI vice president and Berhampore school principal Mark Potter said the funding problem was widespread in schools.

“It tends to be that a lot of bottom decile schools experience a higher number of children with complex needs, but that doesn’t mean that they alone receive them, top decile schools also have challenges,” he said. Potter said.

He said receiving insufficient funding to meet the needs of all children in a school puts the school in a compromised position.

“There is certainly a default transfer to the board and principals of the responsibility to meet all the children’s needs – the ministry is not playing its full role, only part of what it has to. make.”

Potter said when the Education Department called on the hourly teacher assistant to fund a contribution, it questioned the agency’s commitment to a public education system.

“The term ministry contribution, which arose from the fact that they initially said they fund children’s needs, once it became blatantly clear that they weren’t doing that, they started saying that they were only making one contribution, ”he said.

Pūaotanga, an independent study on primary endowment levels funded by the NZEI, said one of the most urgent improvements needed is to increase the number and quality of teacher assistants.

The report sets out various recommendations for teacher assistants, including time allotted for classroom work to complete tasks such as planning for learning support, having a teacher assistant in each classroom, and central funding. teacher assistants by the government, as are teachers.

Wales said central funding for teacher assistants was not currently being considered.

“Local schools know best their needs, the needs of the students and the best way to get them back to their community in terms of the people involved. ”

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