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Concern Following Correspondence School Staff Cut

6 May 2005

Rural Women concerned for rural families following Correspondence School staff cuts

Rural Women New Zealand is concerned that the axing of 19 regional representatives jobs at the Correspondence School will further isolate the school’s traditional rural students and their parents.

The 19 regional representatives were amongst 35 staff affected by restructuring plans announced by the Correspondence School yesterday as it seeks to address huge roll growth, changes in its student profile and a budget deficit of $5.5 million.

Rural Women believes the needs of rural students are being downplayed as the school seeks to better cater for “at risk” and dual-enrolled children, who now make up the bulk of the school’s student numbers. Rural children have been assessed as having high support at home and therefore in low need of Correspondence School support in the new structure.

However Rural Women believes face-to-face contact with teachers is vital for geographically-isolated families who have no choice but to use distance education.

Rural parents who supervise their children’s learning are generally not trained teachers and highly value home visits from regional representatives, who in the past have liaised between the Correspondence School teachers and the families.

“One-on-one contact is also important for the students, who are motivated to work for teachers rather than their parents” says Jacky Stafford, Rural Women’s education spokesperson.

“In the past regional representatives have ensured the Correspondence School did a very good job in providing personalised teaching, targeting the unique situation of a child. Without home visits this will be more difficult.”

Rural Women accepts that the Correspondence School must adapt to changing times, but fears its increasing role as a ‘school of last resort’ for children who have slipped through the cracks comes at the expense of students in rural areas who have no other choice.

ENDS

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