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Staffing needed to help high risk students

23 September 2008

Staffing needed to help high risk students

Greater Wellington teachers are becoming frustrated by the government’s failure to provide adequate staffing to help high risk students.

As they continue to deal with the behaviour of severely disruptive pupils, they need more tangible support from the government if they are to limit the impact of this on all students, PPTA Hutt Valley regional executive member Martin Henry says.

A recent New Zealand Council for Education Research (NZCER) survey of teachers at the 28 state and integrated schools in greater Wellington, showed just over half felt severe behaviour limited the activities they would try with their classes. Other students therefore suffered directly and indirectly from the
disruptive behaviour of high-risk students.

Sixty-one percent said they had learnt new approaches to deal with the behaviour of disruptive students, 48% saying it had been hard work but rewarding to see some gains.

The combined Hutt Valley/Wellington regions of the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) are presenting a paper to its annual conference at the end of this month. It calls for an investigation into staffing models that adequately reflect the realities teachers are experiencing in their classrooms, Henry says.

“Resourcing is required to relieve the pressure these students create, to produce better classes for them and for the students and teachers affected,” he said.

The NZCER survey shows 12% of boys, 5% of girls and 9% of all students in all classes taught by the responding teachers, exhibited severely disruptive behaviour. In decile 1-4 schools the rates were higher, ranging between 13%-15%. Years 9 and 10 contained the highest proportion of severely disruptive pupils at 12%.

Although the majority of teachers report on the satisfactory advice and support of their colleagues and the back up from school management, the impact of severely disruptive student behaviour on teachers personally is significant.

- 41% said that it made them anxious or wary
- 28% said their general health was poorer
- 32% said that it undermined their confidence
- 9% said they were frightened of students with severe behaviour

12% of responding teachers reported experiencing severely disruptive behaviour often, and a further 28% sometimes. Despite this, teachers are taking a professional approach and can meet the challenge, but need a transparent formula, as the Hutt Valley/Wellington region paper points out, to increase the options schools have to work with these disruptive students.


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