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Greater support needed to keep students safe

Media release
Greater support needed to keep students safe

The New Zealand School Trustees Association says it is time the Government stepped up its student support funding to ensure all children get a fair go at school.

NZSTA President Chris France says all children deserve quality education and boards of trustees need the right care and support mechanisms in place to ensure this is achieved.

“Students with learning or behavioural issues have the right to appropriate care at school. All students and teachers have the right to a positive learning environment. Adequate provisions and funding are needed from the Government to ensure everyone is receiving the maximum benefits from the education system.”

Chris France says behavioural issues stemming from conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are increasing and that can have a strong impact upon schools.

Figures from Pharmac show prescriptions for ADHD drugs have steadily increased over the past decade. While there is no exact figure on the number of children with ADHD, US research indicates it could affect up to 5 per cent of the population.

Chris France says an increasing number of New Zealand schools are finding they have to dip into their already diminishing operations grants in order to meet the needs of children who require extra help and attention, such as teacher aides.

He says while it’s heartening to see schools go that extra distance for their students, they should not have to borrow from a funding pool designated to benefit all school children.

Many schools are already under significant pressure to try to live within the existing operations grant, just to trying to meet cost increases that are outside of the boards control. For example three years of support staff settlements which have been settled well above the level of affordability for many boards.

“Operations grants should not have to cover the costs of additional care for some students. The Government needs to realise children with learning or behavioural issues may need extra attention and should provide funding accordingly.”

It is incredibly ironic that ADHD children need teacher aide time, yet because of pressures on the operations grant, these teacher aides are the exact same people that are currently losing hours of work, or jobs, as boards struggle to make the operations grant stretch to meet the basics.

“With adequate financial help, schools will be able to ensure every New Zealand student is getting a good education in a harmonious environment, and we have an expectation that the budget will deliver exactly that.

[ends]

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