Media Releases

Specialised teachers deliver a petition to Minister to stop cuts that will impact children most in need

14 Sep 2023

A group of teachers took a clear message to the Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti, this morning to urge the Government not to reduce specialist staff who support tamariki in schools. A petition with over 5000 signatures was handed to the Minister at her electorate office in Tauranga this morning.

Resource teachers of learning and behaviour (RTLBs) are facing the prospect of staff reductions because of an historic roll-based formula that does not reflect increasing student need. RTLBs provide support to teachers so that students receive the specialist support they need to learn.

Nik Smith, an RTLB teacher from Tauranga, says that if we truly want our children to succeed, we need to radically change how we support them and their teachers.

“We have been under resourced for far too long. It would be negligent of the Government to reduce staffing when we’re desperately needed.

“Removing RTLB is shockingly irresponsible and detrimental to tamariki most in need of support.

“Disruptions related to Covid-19 caused a tsunami wave of wellbeing issues for tamariki and we’re only now seeing the impact of this. This coupled with the cost-of-living crisis means we’re seeing behaviour referrals increase dramatically. Tamariki are also experiencing ongoing trauma from poverty, housing insecurity, and climate change.

“This is categorically not a time to be removing RTLBs and will leave schools and the children most in need with nowhere to turn. Tamariki and classroom kaiako in New Zealand’s education system are suffering a wellbeing crisis and it would be negligent of the Government to reduce RTLB staffing when we’re desperately needed and make such a positive difference for both.”

Ms Smith said that tamariki deserve a system based on today’s students’ needs, not on an outdated formula.

“It is no secret that students’ learning needs have grown in complexity and number. The current formula is outdated and must change so it addresses the myriad of needs displayed by ākonga and professed by kaiako. That we might now reduce our staffing because of an old formula based on the number of students on a school's roll is absolutely ridiculous.”