Learners who feel safe and confident in themselves and their learning environments, are those who best engage and achieve in education, in work and in life.
On July 31, the Government announced $75.8 million is being invested, over four years, to support the wellbeing of tamariki and rangatahi. This funding will enable schools and whānau to better manage the many learner mental health and wellbeing issues that have arisen due to COVID-19.
The funding will give primary and secondary students greater access to guidance counsellors and counselling support services. It was the final announcement of the Government’s Budget 2020 student and educator wellbeing package, and brings the total invested in new initiatives to over $199 million.
$44 million of this funding will contract local community organisations to provide support for primary and secondary students, from 2021, in areas most impacted by COVID-19. This is the first time ever that some primary school students will be able to access support for their mental health and wellbeing in this way.
$31.8 million of this funding will be used to increase large secondary schools’ guidance staffing entitlement. It will employ more guidance counsellors and other pastoral care staff. Around 210 schools and kura with over 450 secondary students will be able to employ guidance counselling staff for an additional two days per week from the beginning of 2021. This is an increase of around 90 full time equivalent guidance counsellors across these large secondary schools.
The $75.8 million for increased counselling is the final part of the Budget 2020 Education Wellbeing package, designed to support the mental health and wellbeing of our learners and educators. The package is made up of the following initiatives:
- $50 million, in 2020/21, for an Urgent Response Fund (URF) giving immediate support to centre-based early learning services, schools and kura, to improve attendance, and help manage any learning, social, emotional, mental, or other wellbeing needs directly related to the COVID-19 lockdown.
- $16 million for educator wellbeing, increasing access to support services for an additional 10,000 employees of publically funded early learning services, kōhanga reo, schools and kura, and their families.
- $75.8 million, over four years, for greater access to mental health and wellbeing support services for primary and secondary students
- $25 million to support tertiary student wellbeing
- $32.8 million for 40 new Curriculum Leads to help schools, kura, early learning services and kōhanga reo deliver a high quality Health and Physical Education local curriculum. The first Leads will be in place from Term 1, 2021.
These new initiatives, along with existing Ministry of Education wellbeing programmes, mean that New Zealand’s learners will soon be able to access an increasing variety of wellbeing supports to help them in their learning.
The new supports will also provide the sector, community groups, iwi and others, with more resources to find new, innovative, and localised solutions to address wellbeing needs. The package also delivers more of the front line specialist support that educators have been asking for to support the wellbeing of learners.