The Prime Minister’s announcement this afternoon that the Government will fully fund 600 Learning Support Coordinator positions in 2020 is a big win for children and a big win for teachers and principals.
Having a funded Learning Support Coordinator (also known as a Special Education Needs Coordinator or SENCO) position in every school has been a core claim in the NZEI Te Riu Roa It’s Time Kua Tae Te Wā campaign for collective agreement negotiations.
NZEI President Lynda Stuart says the need for more support for children with additional learning needs has never been greater.
“This announcement signals a positive start to the week of facilitation with the Ministry over primary teacher and principal collective agreements, because our claim for this role was an important one for members, as well as for kids and their families.
“It’s a constructive response from the government to the fact that the number of children with complex needs is growing while the Learning Support Coordinator/SENCO job is currently being done on top of or squeezed in around the day job of principals, deputy principals and classroom teachers.
“We also want to thank the principals and teachers in our collective agreement negotiation teams, member leaders and every member who has had conversations with their school communities to drive home the importance and urgency of this campaign,” she said.
“This announcement potentially enables schools to release highly capable people into these roles and improve inclusion for all students. Although the current teacher shortage will make finding an additional 600 teachers challenging, the creation of this role will help support teachers and school leaders and reduce their workload — so making the job of a teacher better supported and more appealing.
Despite the current teacher shortage, NZEI agrees with the Government’s position that the role must be filled by qualified teachers employed in and by schools. Those filling the roles need to be close to children and their whanau, understand the process of teaching and learning and be able to build capability in other teachers and education staff.
Ms Stuart was also pleased that the need for professional learning and development was recognised and looked forward to involvement in the design and rollout of this. No doubt this will be raised during facilitation this week.
Facilitation at the ERA will be ongoing this week from Monday at 10:30am, and the rolling strike is still proceeding.