A Facebook group “I back the teachers”, set up for parents and supporters of teachers, has reached 7,000 members in one week.
One of the parents who helped establish the group, Marnie Wilton, says until now there wasn’t anywhere for the wider community to show their support for teachers. Marnie says:
“This isn’t just a crisis for teachers, it’s a crisis for our children. The pay and working conditions that the government offer teachers are simply not good enough to attract or keep people teaching – and it’s our kids who will suffer for it. Something needs to be done – and quick. I hope that every single person in this country who cares about our children backs the teachers 100%”.
A number of parents on the group have children with additional learning needs and have expressed their concern about the lack of resources and support for the teachers in their children’s classrooms.
Christchurch Mum of three, Anna Pata, has a 10 year old son at Rolleston school who has been diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety disorder. She says:
“He has high needs in the classroom to stay focused, keep going with his work and not distract others. He’s also had huge problems with flight or fight mode this year and when he’s anxious he runs out of school. It has been so stressful on the school, his teacher and me as a Mum. My son’s school is incredible; the office staff, teachers, teacher aides and principal. But I’m concerned about the pressure these teachers are under and the lack of resources for my kids. I am especially worried about my 3 year old who is currently going through assessments for autism. He is going to need to much more support than my eldest ever needed and I fear it won’t be there.”
Kris Tucker’s 6 year old son is at Henderson Primary school and she was so concerned about the lack of support for the teacher in her son’s class that she started working voluntarily as a teacher aide to help out. “My son doesn’t have special needs but I could see he was just not progressing well at school. His teacher and school are really fantastic and are trying their best but they don’t get enough funding and class sizes are just too large. I felt like if I didn’t volunteer my son would miss out – something has to be done to help schools and teachers”.
Another parent who made the decision to volunteer to help her local school was Linda Stewart, parent at Te Papapa school in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga. She is worried about the effect the teacher shortage is having on our youngest pupils: “I do two hours once a week helping in the new entrants class and I see the effect the funding shortage is having on our youngest pupils. Children are coming into school at age five whether they are ready to be in a school environment or not.
They have a diverse range of developmental levels and needs and a huge amount of work has to happen behind the scenes to create the quality learning environments that exist at our school. The teachers are doing a great job but I’m worried that many of them are going to end up burnt out and leave the profession. How will education be for our children then?”