Increasing class sizes will disadvantage rural children, teens

Wednesday 23 May 2012, 3:33PM

By Federated Farmers of New Zealand


The government’s moves to increase the ratio of children to teachers will have an adverse effect on rural children’s education and potentially put workers off taking jobs in areas with reduced teacher numbers in schools, states Federated Farmers education spokesperson Jeanette Maxwell.

“Federated Farmers calls for the government to rethink its policy on increasing the ratio of pupils to teachers because we do not want to see our rural children’s futures compromised,” Federated Farmers education spokesperson Jeanette Maxwell says.

“Many rural schools are already understaffed. Having just three teachers to around 60 children ranging from five to 14 years old is quite common. Under the new rules, those children would only qualify for two teachers.

“Some schools already operate under a sole charge teacher situation, which is not ideal from either an academic or a health and safety viewpoint in the event of illness or injury. These teachers have to make sure they are delivering the appropriate education to each of their pupils, whether they are new entrant or year 10. That is very hard to do, no matter how small the school.

“Moreover, I fear decreasing teachers will be a massive disincentive to families thinking of making a career change to agriculture and moving to rural areas.

“The government says it wants more people to take an interest in farming as a viable, family friendly career choice, but this short-sighted policy does not take this laudable aim into account at all.

“Instead of decreasing opportunities for education in our rural communities, it would be better for the government to strengthen them, so more families can play their part in growing New Zealand’s biggest export earning sector,” Mrs Maxwell concluded.