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Independent review underway as teachers plead for more resources in the classroom


School staff, parents and education academics have shared their experiences of a funding model that’s inadequate for student needs in an independent investigation commissioned by the New Zealand Educational Institute.

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The nation’s youngest learners are missing out, teachers, parents and school staff told an independent inquiry into school funding in Wellington today. Source: 1 NEWS

Pūaotanga is the review that’s seen submissions from around the country heard by a group of education experts, before a report is delivered to the primary teachers’ union in late May.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Liam Rutherford said in a press release teachers have raised serious concerns about insufficient staffing affecting student learning and support and the review was an opportunity to provide the Government with solutions.

"To ensure each child reaches their potential we need teachers who have time to teach and leaders who have time to lead," Rutherford said.

May Road School teacher Rearna Hartmann said it’s a “very, very difficult” situation that sees some students not getting the most they can from school.

“Every teacher is doing the absolute best they can but there is always, ‘Oh, I needed to do that today and I did not have the time.'

“There are events in class where the children might have social and emotional needs that take precedence so sometimes the learning comes after that, and sometimes you find that if you didn’t have the support for them in that moment. Well then they are losing out in their learning,” she said.

Hartmann said when focused on helping a high-needs student, sometimes another student “just hasn’t got your attention that day”.

She said receiving increased staffing funding from the Government would significantly help the situation.

Constanze Schwind, a mother of a son with autism spectrum disorder, said the lack of Government funding for learning support for children with higher needs is “shocking” and “sad”.

“My son has 17 teacher aide hours per week and you can’t get more from the ministry but he needs 24/7 supervision. That means 25 hours in a week, right? So the school somehow needs to fund this.

“What is with all these other children that don't get ORS funding, who don’t have anything and probably need it you know?” she said.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said a group of officials are reviewing primary school resourcing at the moment.

"We do know that primary schools are reporting more complex and challenging behaviour and we're working hard to make sure they're getting the resources they need,” he said.

Nearly 2000 submissions have been submitted to the independent review so far.

Submissions can be made on the Pūaotanga website until April 12.

"We want to hear perspectives that reflect the diversity of communities across Aotearoa, and would particularly like to hear from our Māori and Pasifika communities as well as people with disabilities and their whānau," the website says.