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Government Puts Teacher Wellbeing At The Centre

The Government is committing nearly $9 million to ensure educators in early learning services and schools get the wellbeing support they need.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement, which includes providing frontline counselling and advice services for educators, during his address at the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) annual conference.

“Teachers and leaders in early learning and schools have done an incredible job supporting students and their whānau during COVID-19. But this has come at a cost for many in the profession,” Chris Hipkins said.

“This package recognises the ongoing impact of the pandemic on many of our educators. In particular, I am hearing concerns about the effect that recent Alert Level 3 measures have had on our teachers, centre leaders and principals in the Auckland region.”

The Government’s educator wellbeing package includes:

· An immediate $4.2m package of counselling and support services for Auckland educators. This package delivers, over a three month period, additional free-of-charge Employment Assistance Programme (EAP) advice and group workshops on issues of concern to staff in state and state-integrated schools, kura, and early learning services. These services will be rolled out during Term 4 2020.

· A further $2m has been set aside to provide additional immediate EAP counselling and support services in locations or regions experiencing a further resurgence of COVID-19, with more options to provide nationwide support to be investigated in the coming months.

· $1.5m to develop a nationwide wellbeing online hub to provide additional support until June 2023 for all of the more than 130,000 educators in New Zealand, and their whānau. The hub will provide a range of easily accessible advice, including peer to peer support and some materials specifically developed for the education sector. This is expected to be up and running before the end of this school year and is in addition to other general wellbeing online information provided by the Ministry of Health.

· Up to $1m, over three years, to support the wellbeing of the Māori education workforce in Māori medium educational settings.

“The wellbeing package is a direct result of the Accord entered into in 2019 between NZEI, the PPTA and the Ministry of Education to identify and address issues of mutual interest between the parties, such as workload and wider wellbeing, and commits them to find solutions together. The package specifics were developed by the Accord partners, working with representatives of school trustees, principals, and kindergartens.

“This package does not replace supports already provided by schools and early learning services. The Government has a further $7 million to support teacher and principal wellbeing on top of today’s announcement.

“The Ministry of Education will work with the Accord partners and Māori medium and Pacific peak bodies in early 2021 to develop further initiatives to be funded out of the remaining funds,” Chris Hipkins said.

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