11 Dec 2017

Many schools cutting teacher aide hours

8:53 pm on 11 December 2017

Nearly half of primary and intermediate schools are cutting teacher aide hours in order to make ends meet next year, a survey by the teacher union the Educational Institute indicates.

A view from behind of teacher aide and two little girls while rest of class taught  further into classroom.

A teacher aide works with special needs students at Newmarket School in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

The institute said 622 principals out of 1948 who belonged to the union responded to its email survey.

It said 44 percent of respondents said they were reducing teacher aide hours in order to keep costs within budget next year and of those principals, two-thirds were planning cuts of 20 percent or less.

Fourteen percent said they expected to start next year with vacancies and 20 percent said they were not yet sure if they would have enough staff.

Eighty percent of respondents said they would sign up if the government went ahead with the Labour Party's election policy of paying schools $150 per student if they stopped asking parents for donations.

Forty-one percent of the respondents said if they received more money from the donation policy, they would use it to cover more teacher aide hours, 24 percent would spend it on general running costs, and 12 percent on school trips and activities.

The president of the NZEI, Lynda Stuart, said the results highlighted the inadequacy of government funding.

"Except for centrally-funded teacher salaries, schools have to cover all their running costs from their operational budgets. Most costs are fixed and despite the vital importance of teacher aides to support children's learning, their hours are usually the first casualties of an overstretched budget," Ms Stuart said.

The results echoed those of a survey by the Council for Educational Research published in November. It found only 8 percent of primary principals believed their operational funding was sufficient and two-thirds said their staffing allocation was inadequate.

Respondents to the NZEI survey were spread relatively evenly across the different socio-economic deciles.

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