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Ministry changes deny teacher's expertise

PETRICE TARRANT
Last updated 11:23 18/12/2012
Mary Heerikhuisen-Beekman
ABRUPT EXIT: Teacher Mary Heerikhuisen-Beekman worries about what will happen to her students under the new system.

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Teacher Mary Heerikhuisen-Beekman was told to go back to school or leave.

It was a hard call after 38 years on the job. The dedicated teacher who spent the past eight years as a supplementary learning support teacher decided to go, saying more study would be a "waste of time and money".

Her predicament was a result of a Ministry of Education merger of the supplementary learning support (SLS) and resource teacher: learning and behaviour services (RTLB).

SLS teachers are now required to complete a post-graduate diploma and the one-on-one role of the teachers will be lost.

Mrs Heerikhuisen-Beekman, affectionately known as Mrs Mary, was one of two Northern Wairoa SLS teachers. This year they worked with 10 students who were at least six years below the required standard - the equivalent of a 12-year-old working at a 6-year-old's level.

Mrs Heerikhuisen-Beekman says she is "sick with worry" about what will happen to her students under the new system.

"RTLB and SLS have completely different job roles and they've swept them all on one heap, but it's not one size fits all," she says.

Dargaville Intermediate School principal Brendon Lucich said goodbye to Mrs Heerikhuisen-Beekman at an emotional farewell and thanked her for the tender love and care she has given some of his most needy children.

He says to ask such an experienced woman to go back to the books is ridiculous.

"I'm a patient man but I couldn't do Mary's job."

Mr Lucich says this is just one of a series of damaging education reforms.

The ministry proposed to close down Salisbury Residential School earlier this year but a judge's ruling declared the move unlawful.

"It's the state failing to honour its obligation to its people," Mr Lucich says.

The ministry says a 2010 speical education review showed the old system was too complex and fragmented.

It says public submissions were supported by a national evaluation report by the Education Review Office.

The Government's four-year commitment to achieve a fully inclusive education system by 2014 resulted from the review.

The amalgamation was finalised in August and will take effect at the start of the 2013 school year.

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- Dargaville News

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