Training ministry apologises after dad and mom informed to cease paying for son’s instructor aide
Thomas Park / unsplash
The instruction to no longer finance their son’s teaching assistant surprised the Martin family.
Parents who were abruptly banned from paying their son’s teacher aid received an apology from the Ministry of Education to handle the process.
Auckland mother Jo Martin was told she could no longer fund an assistant for her 8-year-old who suffers from autism and ADHD after emailing Education Secretary Chris Hipkins revealing that she pays $ 2,700 per semester to support her son.
After receiving the email copied to department officials, Deirdre Alderson, assistant director of learning support in Auckland, contacted the school the first thing the next morning to ask them to end the agreement.
The news surprised Martin and called the step “callous and mean” at the time.
* The boy’s teaching assistant was interrupted after parents said they weren’t allowed to fund it
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She has since received a letter of apology from Education Secretary Iona Holsted after investigating the department’s handling of the matter.
Holsted said while parents paying for teaching assistants were illegal, the ministry’s approach should have been “more careful and foresighted.”
She admitted that the ministry should have communicated directly with the family.
“I apologize for the way the Ministry has treated you and your son,” she wrote.
MONIQUE FORD / stuff
Jo Martin (left) petitioned Parliament with other Mt Hobson Middle School parents in hopes of saving the school.
Martin filed a complaint about Alderson after a Data Protection Act request revealed that it was a “hail” email from Alderson to a colleague.
“You were right about the parents’ reaction when they found out that the letter to the Minister removed the availability of the TA for their son!” Alderson wrote.
Holsted admitted that this “clearly appeared and felt offensive and disrespectful,” but said the investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing or malice in Alderson’s actions.
The Martin family has been assigned a Department of Education psychologist to assess future school benefits for their son.
Martin said this was a “positive step” for which she was grateful.
But she said there were many neurodiverse children who weren’t getting the support they needed to study.
A “one-size-fits-all” approach means that children with learning support needs do not always have equal access to education, she said.
Parents have commented on having to homeschool their children due to a lack of support at school, and many contacted Stuff saying they paid for their children’s teachers as well.
Martin originally emailed Chris Hipkins to deny his claim that “support is available to all learners in existing state schools”.
That allegation was one of the reasons the Education Secretary turned down an application for Mt Hobson Middle School as a designated character school for students with diverse learning needs.
A third application is made for the school to join the state system.
Martin, a longtime activist for the school, said the school’s subject teachers and small class sizes were needed by groups that were underserved by regular education.