Otago Daily Times

High­needs ‘un­der­fund­ing’

- EMMA PERRY emma.perry@odt.co.nz Society · Education · Jacinda Ardern · Malaysian Ministry of Education · Ministry of Human Resource Development

PRIN­CI­PALS across Otago have penned a let­ter to the Gov­ern­ment crit­i­cis­ing the ‘‘sys­temic un­der­fund­ing’’ of schools with pupils hav­ing high needs.

An open let­ter to Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern and Labour’s coali­tion part­ners says the on­go­ing re­source scheme (ORS) is be­ing ig­nored, is chron­i­cally un­der­funded and is plac­ing school staff in un­ten­able po­si­tions.

The scheme was set up to pro­vide fund­ing for pupils with on­go­ing or se­vere dif­fi­culty in learn­ing, hear­ing, vi­sion, phys­i­cal or lan­guage use and so­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The Otago Pri­mary Prin­ci­pals’ As­so­ci­a­tion (OPPA) says it sur­veyed 38 pri­mary and in­ter­me­di­ate schools in Otago, and found all the schools were hav­ing to top up gov­ern­ment ORS fund­ing by up to 35%.

En­sur­ing the needs of hig­h­and very high­risk pupils in schools were be­ing met was cost­ing school boards as much as $14,000 each week .

The let­ter said the lack of fund­ing was ex­pos­ing teach­ers, sup­port staff and pupils to un­ac­cept­able risk.

OPPA ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber Brent Cald­well said for sev­eral years the sta­tus quo was that schools topped up fund­ing.

‘‘This has a knock­on ef­fect to our abil­ity to sup­port other pupils.

‘‘By draw­ing at­ten­tion to the cur­rent re­al­ity of the model, we hope some con­sid­er­a­tion might be given to en­sur­ing chil­dren who qual­ify for the scheme are fully funded . . . Schools don’t make these ap­pli­ca­tions on a whim.’’

A ‘‘ba­sic short­fall’’ in the fund­ing for ORS­funded chil­dren re­sulted in the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing schools for 39 weeks a year, whereas school boards were re­quired to pay sup­port staff for 44 weeks a year, the let­ter said.

‘‘Many boards are left weigh­ing up these crit­i­cal is­sues against the ob­vi­ous needs of the most vul­ner­a­ble stu­dents in their schools . . . Clearly, the sys­tem is in need of change,’’ the let­ter said.

The ap­pli­ca­tion process was flawed and needed to be changed, it said.

‘‘Of the 40 ap­pli­ca­tions made across the OPPA sam­ple schools in the last 18 months, only 18 were suc­cess­ful.

‘‘This means that be­yond the suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tions is a far greater num­ber of chil­dren who, while clearly warranting high lev­els of sup­port in or­der to par­tic­i­pate in a main­stream school, are de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to re­ceive much­needed on­go­ing sup­port.’’

 ?? PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON ?? For the chil­dren . . . Tainui School prin­ci­pal Shelley Wilde and Morn­ing­ton School prin­ci­pal Brent Cald­well are call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment for fund­ing for teach­ing high­needs pupils to be im­proved.
PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON For the chil­dren . . . Tainui School prin­ci­pal Shelley Wilde and Morn­ing­ton School prin­ci­pal Brent Cald­well are call­ing on the Gov­ern­ment for fund­ing for teach­ing high­needs pupils to be im­proved.

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