Schools strug­gle to sup­port teacher aides

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

The Govern­ment’s freez­ing of the op­er­a­tions grant for schools is hav­ing dire con­se­quences on kids ac­cord­ing to a Toko­roa teacher aide.

For 11 years Karen Hill has been a teacher aide at var­i­ous South Waikato schools and said schools are in­creas­ingly feel­ing the strain of limited bud­gets, forc­ing them to cut back on sup­port staff for kids in need.

‘‘I started at Toko­roa High School and had sole charge of classes of 15 and 16 year olds who were read­ing at five and six-year-old lev­els but my hours were cut back from 30 a week to just eight with no no­tice. I had to leave be­cause I couldn’t work with that,’’ she said.

She now works at David Henry School where she only gets 10 hours a week to work with stu­dents with se­vere learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties.

‘‘I have got one boy who has got se­lec­tive mutism and he gets two hours a week, how is that go­ing to help him?’’ she said.

‘‘I also had a student last year who I was with full time to stop him from hurt­ing him­self and other kids but this year he only gets fund­ing for three hours. It’s just ridicu­lous.’’

‘‘I have to take ex­tra hours out of my day to do plan­ning to work with these kids but we should have ex­tra paid hours to be able to do that be­cause we can’t help them in the time we are paid to help them,’’ she said.

The New Zealand Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute (NZEI) mini­van vis­ited South Waikato ed­u­ca­tion providers last week to high­light the is­sue to par­ents.

The visit was part of the union’s na­tional Heart­land Cam­paign which is aim­ing to en­cour­age com­mu­ni­ties to fight to re­store and in­crease fund­ing for schools.

Toko­roa NZEI branch pres­i­dent Cather­ine Bro­man said Govern­ment re­stric­tions on fund­ing were mak­ing it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for teach­ers to meet the needs of stu­dents.

‘‘The two big is­sues we are mak­ing par­ents aware of is the Govern­ment has frozen fund­ing for kinder­gartens since 2010 and they have frozen the op­er­a­tions grant for schools,’’ she said.

‘‘That means we can’t af­ford to pay teacher aides, it’s just not go­ing to hap­pen.’’

‘‘The Govern­ment is push­ing that we need to have these kids at na­tional stan­dard but let’s have some re­sources to make that ac­tu­ally hap­pen,’’ she said.

LUKE KIRKEBY/ FAIR­FAX NZ

Toko­roa NZEI branch pres­i­dent Cather­ine Bro­man, left, with David Henry School stu­dents and prin­ci­pal Fiona Gott.

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