New service for struggling students

New-serviceFunding from the Rotorua Trust will help provide tuition services to children who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Trust has given a $10,000 grant to the Spirit of Education Excellence Trust to pay for tutors and resources when a pilot programme starts in Rotorua in January 2016. The programme caters for children between Year One and Years 10 and 13, who have fallen below national standards at school but are not eligible to receive any assistance from the public education system and whose parents cannot afford extra help.

Spirit of Education Excellence Trust chairperson Angela Gunn says the trust was established in response to a growing group of children caught in this category.

The government had recognised the need to help children with dyslexia but little help was available for children experiencing other learning difficulties.

“What happens if you are one of those children with other learning difficulties is that you fall further and further behind national standard level.”

While a school teacher may be able to give the occasional extra lesson, this was insufficient and children increasingly struggled at school. “Something has to be put in place for those children who could achieve the standards if they were given an opportunity. If there is nothing in place for them, they just cannot do the work and fall further and further behind.”

Angela is a teacher with 25 years’ experience.

An incident involving the death of a young Pacifica boy led Angela to determine that something must be done to help youngsters struggling with literacy and numeracy.

“I’ve learnt that one size does not fit all. What we’ve endeavoured to do is to find the programme that fits the individual child.”

The pilot is being run in collaboration with tuition provider In2learning and aims to raise the children’s literacy and numeracy levels by an average of two years within the 40 weeks of the school year.

The programme is a matter of social consciousness for Angela. The children must come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds in Rotorua with parents/ caregivers who are unable to pay for extra tutoring and educational resources.

“We have got to have people who are literate and numerate. If people are well educated, everybody is better off.”

The 20 students in the pilot must attend an hour-long small group tuition session once a week.

Angela says the Rotorua Trust’s funding has been crucial, and $26,000 has been collected to go towards funding the programme with a further $10,000 required.

“We’ve got a vision for the community and we are very committed to it,” says Angela.

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