Learning suffers as teachers struggle with Covid’s effects

Learning suffering

Students are missing out and their learning is suffering in New Zealand schools; Covid and its after-effects are taking their toll.

Students are leaving school without qualifications, says Kevin Shore, Catholic Education Office CEO.

Catholic school principals tell him of former pupils working instead of coming to school. They’re helping with stressed family finances.

Others are losing motivation.

He says absence and interruptions are draining their confidence and for some, NCEA success seems out of reach.

Shore says staff are stressed and the last three years have required a huge amount of resilience.

He says Catholic principals and teaching staff are making every effort to limit the negative learning impacts on students.

With sick leave among New Zealand’s teaching staff up by 80 per cent some educational experts seem dismissive when they describe Covid as an “occupational risk” for teachers on the front line.

Long Covid’s not being taken seriously enough, teachers say. Yet its symptoms accompany one in 10 infections.

One teacher speaks of “brain fog, fatigue and breathlessness”. Another can’t walk downstairs. Her lung capacity is poor.

Others report memory problems.

One says he needed reminding how to get to classrooms and when school finishes!

Getting relievers isn’t much of a solution.

Principals say Covid is making it “impossible” to find relief teachers.

There are fewer than 8,500 relief teachers in New Zealand – the lowest number for 17 years.

In two years, more than 1,200 have left and have not been replaced causing some schools to roster students home and move to online learning.

Liam Rutherford of NZEI Te Riu Roa says relief teachers need more support.

“In the pandemic, people want access to more secure work and relieving is the opposite of that,” he says.

“With no work during lockdowns or over holidays people have no job security. There isn’t anything holding them into the sector.

“Covid only emphasises the long-standing issue of insecurity in relief work.

“They need a wider teaching career pathway, with access to professional development.”

Rutherford is calling for an in-depth review of the relief teaching workforce.



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News category: New Zealand.

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