Raylene Tanenui has two children with learning and behaviour needs but won't receive any assistance in a recently-announced government initiative that has left Northland schools seething.
Northland cluster schools will receive 35 of 623 new Learning Support co-ordinators (LSCs) throughout New Zealand from January next year to help children who need extra help from experts such as speech therapists and child psychologists.
The LSCs will identify and plan for the learning support needs of all children and young people in the school or kura, including those with moderate needs.
Schools have been grouped in clusters and there are 62 schools in Northland, divided into nine cluster schools and kura, mostly in Whangārei and Kaipara that will have LSCs.
Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin has come under fire from principals in Northland who say they have been totally ignored despite the region having so many extra learning needs, low-decile schools with a scarcity of speech language therapists, child psychologists and child counsellors.
Tanenui said the allocation of LSCs was unfair as it was not needs-based.
Two of her five children that go to Manaia View School in Whangārei each receive 12 hours of teacher aide but said there were a number of students who needed help with learning and behaviour needs.
"My children will no doubt continue to get awesome support from the school but it doesn't seem fair that the teachers will not get the help they need with these new LSCs," she said.
School principal Leanne Otene said the allocation of LSCs has not been a "fair process".
She received a letter from the ministry which she said inferred Manaia View School, where 97 percent of the 210 students are Maori and one third require extra attention with learning, wasn't prepared and ready for LSCs.
"That's totally rubbish. I wonder how the minister's advisors know which schools aren't prepared and ready? I never received a phone call or had a visit from anyone to look at the systems in my school," she said.
Kaeo Primary School head Paul Barker described the rollout of LSCs as "shameful" as none have been allocated in the mid and Far North where schools have been battling a lack of learning resources for years.
As an example, he said Decile 10 Lynmore Primary School in a well-to-do area in eastern Rotorua was among five schools in a Bay of Plenty cluster that has been allocated five LSCs.
Or 12 schools in the Nelson City Community of Learning cluster that will have nine LSCs, he said.
"Surely, the ministry should look at where the greatest need is which is in Northland yet over the years Northland has been ignored and it has again been ignored."
Hora Hora Primary School has one of the highest number of special needs children but won't receive any LSCs— a situation principal Pat Newman described as "appalling".
But Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin defended the allocation in Northland, saying the first lot of LSCs were never going to provide for the needs of all schools.
"To make sure there was a variety of types of schools and settings in this initial allocation, the allocation decisions also took into account some specific characteristics of clusters, such as the proportion of rural schools, the proportion of Māori and Pacific students, the number of Māori medium kura in a community, and the number of students in a cluster.
"The allocation of the first tranche has not been made on decile, as the decile rating of a school is not necessarily a predictor of learning support need. Children with learning support needs are in schools across all deciles.
"It is important to note that nothing is being taken away from what schools already have.
"These are additional roles and my objective is that there will be further tranches to progressively roll out LSC coverage to all schools, though of course that will be subject to normal Budget decision-making processes," Martin said.
She said LSCs have been allocated across clusters in Kamo, Whangārei, Hokianga, Bream Bay and Dargaville— areas with high levels of need in Northland.