Schools have now had several weeks to come to terms with the results of the first allocation of Learning Support Coordinators. While many are pleased they made the initial cut, others are feeling decidedly frustrated that the process for allocation wasn’t more transparent and equitable.
The first tranche of LSCs were allocated to schools where the Ministry’s Learning Support Delivery Model was already being implemented in established Kahui Ako, or Communities of Learning.
This came as a surprise to the sector.
NZEI Te Riu Roa President Lynda Stuart says the Ministry’s allocation failed the test of whether it would get to the children who needed it most first.
“Putting arbitrary system requirements ahead of what schools have said they want and need to meet the needs of children is disgraceful. The Government needs to urgently guarantee the next tranche of these roles and to ensure they are based in school communities facing the biggest challenges and who desperately need the resource.”
The New Zealand Principals’ Federation (NZPF) president Whetu Cormick agrees.
“We understood that this first tranche of positions would be allocated fairly and evenly across the board. What is surprising is that there is a bias towards allocating LSCs to established Kahui Ako. We had hoped to see LSCs allocated to schools with the greatest number of students with severe learning and behavioural challenges.”
Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin initially defended the roll-out saying that allocating LSCs to schools and clusters that are the most advanced in implementing the Learning Support Delivery Model in the first instance would give the role “the best chance of success”.
Ministry of Education deputy secretary sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey told Stuff the ministry’s regional offices had been working with schools on how they could engage with the Learning Support Delivery Model and schools interested in learning about it were encouraged to contact their local ministry office.
However, it appears that it was not made clear to schools that adopting the model would be one of the key criteria for being allocated an LSC.
Minister Martin has said she’ll investigate the apparent lack of communication between the ministry and schools about the roll-out.
However, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye has hit out against the process, describing it as “shambolic”. She is calling on the Government to halt the roll-out saying she has been inundated with principals and schools claiming that it is inequitable.
Kaye also raises concerns that the roll-out will be too focussed on administration and not deliver enough front line support.
Martin says it is important to note that nothing is being taken away from what schools already have.
“The LSC roles are additional to services or positions schools currently have and my objective is that there will be further tranches to progressively roll out LSC coverage to all schools, though of course that will be subject to normal Budget decision-making processes.”