Media Releases

Cuts to Ministry of Education backline learning support damaging to learning support needs

23 Apr 2024

The decision to cut staff at Ministry of Education who help frontline learning support staff will have a detrimental impact on long-term learning support needs, mokopuna, schools and whānau says the country’s largest education union, NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Primary principal Lynda Stuart says that the Government promised they wouldn’t touch the frontline of education workers, but they’ve made their job much harder by removing the critical support that frontline workers, like speech and occupational therapists and other specialist staff, rely on to deliver their role.

“Schools are complex organisations, and the back-end learning support workers are critical to the safe and effective operations which ensure children’s learning. They deliver services to our most vulnerable children and whānau and removing them will burden an already overstretched learning support staff pool.”

Lynda Stuart says these cuts cannot be delivered without severely impacting vulnerable children who require specialised support.

“We've been seeing kids arriving at school with heightened needs for a long time, whether that’s through covid- related trauma or cost-of-living stress. There’s a glaring scarcity of frontline learning support staff. Any and every cut to the learning support space will directly impact children and increase the workload of people in an already over-stretched profession. What is the Government’s plan to address learning support needs now? The needs still remain, but the help has gone.”

The union also highlighted the effect cuts would have on truancy strategies.

“The cuts to certain teams like Student Achievement are fundamentally incompatible with the Ministry’s commitment to improving attendance because kids with learning support needs will struggle to integrate if the learning support sector isn’t fully resourced.”