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Kindergartens agree learning support services are in crisis

Kindergartens agree learning support services are at crisis level

Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens agrees with school principals that the Ministry of Education’s learning support service is in crisis.

The New Zealand Principals Federation says waiting lists are too long for children needing extra help at school. and Whānau Manaaki says waiting times for early intervention services (for preschool children) are even longer.

Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens runs 85 kindergartens and a homebased service in the lower North Island.

Children face unacceptable delays before being assessed and provided with services, says Amanda Coulston, chief exeuctive of Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens.

Even once assessed and qualifying for support, that support is inadequate she says.

The head teacher of Bellevue Kindergarten in the Wellington suburb of Newlands, Sue Scott, is speaking out because the service is short-changing children.

Sue says children with severe needs get two and a half hours a day of support, with a maxiumum of seven and a half hours a week. For children who need an adult support at all times to ensure their safety, this is simply not good enough.

“The lack of support for high needs children impacts hugely on the child, but also on the remainder of the group” she says.

Sue has written to the Ministry of Education, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Education and her own MP about the problems children are facing. ”I can no longer say nothing and just be grateful for the support that is given.”

Sue says some parents feel obliged to stay at kindergarten because their children’s needs aren’t being met by the service, while others take children home early because of inadequate support hours. Both these situations place additional stress onto children and families.

Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens welcomes an announcement from the Minister Chris Hipkins that more money will be spent on learning support, but Sue Scott says that extra can’t come quickly enough.

“Every day without increased funding is a day that children are missing out – this matter is now urgent and increased funding needs to happen straight away.”


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