A group of Rotorua primary school students who are struggling with reading, writing and maths will receive private tuition this term thanks to a $10,000 grant from BayTrust.
The Spirit of Excellence Education Trust, whose founder Angela Gunn owns tutoring business In2Learning on Hinemoa St, will offer heavily subsidised lessons for 20 students in Term 2 and Term 3 to help boost literacy and numeracy skills.
The special programme is called "Raising the Standard" and is aimed at Rotorua students who are working below average level and whose families cannot afford the cost of one-on-one tuition.
"The economic situation has changed in New Zealand. A lot of people have less disposable income now so even though they want to do the right thing for their kids they just can't afford private tuition fees," Gunn said.
To qualify, families must commit to their child attending every week for 20 weeks and must make a small financial contribution themselves. "The money the parents pay all goes towards helping another child."
Based on past results, students who received tuition through Raising the Standard gained, on average, a whole year level in their maths and two years in their reading comprehension, Gunn said.
"We're really rapt and very grateful to have this grant from BayTrust to help people in the community," Gunn said.
"It's just another way we can reach kids who wouldn't normally be helped. It provides them with an opportunity they may not have got."
She believed children were slipping through the cracks of the education system for a variety of reasons including overcrowded classrooms, families living more transient lives, and a lack of opportunities to practice reading and writing at home.
"One-on-one tuition gives them that support they can't get at home or in school and it makes a massive difference," she said.
"I'm not criticising our schools; they do a tough job in difficult circumstances. But the reality is they can't provide some things for some students and that's where we can help."
The Spirit of Excellence Education Trust estimated up to 40 per cent of adults now suffered from "functional illiteracy", meaning they did not have the basic literacy and numeracy skills required to cope in the modern workplace.
BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes said early intervention programmes such as "Raising the Standard" were essential to help turn this problem around.
"The inability to read and write has huge implications not just for our economy but for people's wellbeing. When you don't have those skills, it's tough to navigate your way through every stage of life.
"This programme gives Rotorua students the help they need early on and prevents a small problem from become a major barrier in life. It also supports our vision of making the Bay of Plenty the greatest place to be, so BayTrust is really pleased to support this initiative."
Families who wish to be considered for this year's intake are invited to contact Angela Gunn at In2Learning by phoning (07) 347 6660 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org