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Source: Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA)

“The findings of the Education Review Office (ERO) report, Time to Focus, about student behaviour will, sadly, come as no surprise to anyone working in a school,” says Kate Gainsford, Chair of the Secondary Principals’ Council.

“Principals and teachers have reported a significant increase in behavioural incidents and issues in the classroom and school grounds have increased significantly over the last few years.

“Our schools are a mirror of our communities and the issues being experienced in our communities are brought to school by young people every day.

“While the scale and complexity of social issues increases, schools are expected to do more – but without a corresponding increase in resources. It’s not all about money for schools, it’s about service and a workforce to provide the necessary service.”

Kate Gainsford said schools endorsed the report’s call for a consistent set of expert supports and programmes. “We need more investment in effective support to help the better management of behaviour including timely access to mental health professionals for young people who need this. Parents, young people and schools need this, and the call for this
has not seen corresponding movement in pace or volume of service provision.

ERO’s findings support the Secondary Principals’ Council 2021 report into staffing of schools which highlighted issues with insufficient provision of government resourcing for pastoral care and the negative impact particularly on larger schools. 

Chris Abercrombie, PPTA Te Wehengarua president, says secondary teachers have identified the need for  more help with student behaviour for some years. “This is why we claimed for more pastoral care staffing as one of the key elements of our collective agreement last year.

“Next year secondary schools will be receiving additional resources for pastoral care staff as part of our recent collective agreement settlements. Although this will be gratefully received it is under half of what is needed to make a real impact in secondary schools and the system has been too slow to respond.

“The Minister of Education should take note of the impact of challenging student behaviour on attendance and student achievement in the report. Initiatives to support the needs of young people need to be of a high quality, reliable and accessible. This must be a priority – not channelling funding away into charter schools.”

“Teachers want to spend more time teaching and helping learners.

“Schools rely on parents and families to be able to follow up mental health and health concerns with health practitioners, and learning difficulties with specialist services within the Ministry of Education. Too often these services receive only leftovers in budgets, yet investment in our young people should be front and centre of Aotearoa New Zealand’s development plans.”