Budget 2023 will need to unlock sufficient funding to address inequitable access, understaffing and unmet needs in learning support if proposed reforms are to succeed, NZEI Te Riu Roa says.
Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti has released Cabinet’s decisions on the Highest Needs Review at Berhampore School in Wellington.
Berhampore School Principal and NZEI Te Riu Roa Vice President Mark Potter said that the government’s commitment to a bold overhaul of the current system was strongly welcomed given decades of underfunding, but this vision would only be achieved with a substantial boost to learning support in Budget 2023.
“Throughout the year, teachers, specialist educators and whānau have been involved in the Ngā Aukaha learning support campaign. They have put the case to MPs to support the five clear solutions so that all tamariki can access the support they need to thrive.”
“As Cabinet has noted, for every seven students who receive high needs supports there are around three who may be missing out. The direction announced today is promising, but we know that in order to achieve the system change the government and all of us are seeking, funding will need to be urgently provided to deliver increased numbers of specialists, teacher aides and learning support coordinators or SENCOs in all schools and early learning centres.”
Mark Potter said it was important the proposed connector role didn’t duplicate existing roles such as Learning Support Coordinators, which only 2 in 5 schools can currently access and should be equitably allocated.
“Cabinet have also noted that there is a significant shortage of specialists to meet the current levels of demand in the system. Improving wages and working conditions is critical to fixing this.”
“We look forward to seeing more detail, and to working with the government in shaping the building blocks for a truly inclusive education system.”
Ngā Aukaha campaign’s five clear immediate solutions for an inclusive education system:
- Fund a dedicated Learning Support Coordinator or SENCO in every school and early childhood centre.
- Expand the ORS criteria and increase the funding available so that it is based on need, rather than a fixed amount of funding available.
- Increase dedicated teacher aide funding in early childhood centres and schools.
- Increase the number of specialists (e.g. psychologists, physiotherapists and resource teachers) to meet student need.
- Develop and provide greater professional development (including career pathways) and specialist opportunities for educators to develop their understanding of learning support, including Initial Teacher Education.