Shock as teacher advisory services slashed

Primary principals were shocked to learn government funding for teacher professional development will be cut in almost all learning areas except literacy and numeracy next year.

The Ministry of Education website, Te Kete Ipurangi, says support for the arts, science, social science, technology, health and physical education learning areas for primary schools will cease from next year.

Advisory services will be cut in gifted and talented education, education for sustainability, and food and nutrition and physical activity because of decisions in this year's Budget.

The website says funding will focus on literacy and numeracy.

Otago Primary Principals Association president Steve Hayward said he learned of the cuts only after reading information on the ministry website. Even then, the information was not obvious.

The cuts would have a significant impact on the quality of education in primary schools.

"If we can't get quality advice and guidance from expert practitioners and advisers, then surely this will impact on the quality of teaching.

"I'm shocked to read about this . . . It's ludicrous to cut support."

Schools would now have to pay for teacher professional development in these learning areas - funding schools did not have.

The ministry has begun discussions with providers about professional development services for next year.

The website says professional development will reflect the Government's commitments for education and will focus on a smaller number of critical priorities.

The concerted focus on literacy and numeracy will support the introduction of the National Standards in primary schools.

"It is important to note that the ministry has a range of other agreements that provide professional development, including leadership programmes, literacy, assessment, e-Learning/ICT and Maori medium."

Mr Hayward urged the Government to reinstate the services.

Neither Education Minister Anne Tolley nor a ministry spokesman were available for comment late yesterday.


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