Wednesday, 19 June 2024 09:55

Rural schools' staffing crisis

Written by  Jessica Marshall
Lack of funding and access to learning support specialists could leave rural schools in crisis. Lack of funding and access to learning support specialists could leave rural schools in crisis.

Rural schools could face a dual resourcing crisis when it comes to learning support specialists.

That’s according to the education sector union, NZEI. The union says that due to geographical location, many rural schools are struggling to access Ministry of Education learning support specialists like speech language therapists to meet their students’ needs.

On top of this, they are not receiving funding for learning support coordinators based in their schools.

A spokesperson for NZEI told Rural News there has been a long-term underinvestment in the learning support specialist roles, including a hiring freeze on those roles between 2008-2017.

The union adds that without learning support coordinators, rural school principals will have to fulfil the roles and responsibilities of multiple job descriptions.

“This could be making referrals, liaising with agencies, then managing any recommended strategies and taking responsibility for ongoing monitoring and reporting. This is an extra workload on top of their principal duties,” it says.

“Teacher aides are essential to children thriving in the classroom, so their absence can detrimentally impact the child’s social and emotional development, as well as their ability to learn and work independently.

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