Schools struggle to support teacher aides
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.
Tokoroa NZEI branch president Catherine Broman, left, with David Henry School students and principal Fiona Gott.