Counsellors help teachers cope with uncertainties
Christchurch schools have enlisted counsellors to support teachers struggling under earthquake pressure as redundancies loom at the end of the year.
Declining rolls and pupil movement after the February 2011 quake mean several city schools, particularly in the hard-hit east, will have to cut staff.
On top of job uncertainty, exhausted teachers are dealing with pupils exhibiting quake trauma.
The earliest indication that schools will have on 2013 staffing entitlements will be in September.
The Education Ministry cannot make any decisions until next year's staffing entitlements have been calculated, based on July 1 rolls.
Banks Avenue School principal Murray Edlin is one of many Christchurch principals looking at staffing cuts.
He has enlisted a support person to help teachers.
"It is certainly a challenge for us as we work through times where there is such uncertainty," he said.
Canterbury Primary Principals' Association president John Bangma said Christchurch teachers were working in an environment of unprecedented angst and uncertainty.
While job losses were inevitable at the end of the year, teachers could find themselves in the same position the year after.
"The reality is schools are looking at potential redundancies into the next year as well, once future effects of zoning have taken hold," he said.
"It generates a lot of angst. Staff are struggling with the earthquake on top of potential job losses.
"They are trying to hold it all together."
Bangma had invited a counsellor to Mairehau Primary School, where he is principal, immediately after the February 2011 quake and to return in coming weeks.
"Teachers can't just curl up in a corner. They have to stand up in front of the class and get on with it," he said.
Secretary for Education Lesley Longstone praised teachers who had "kept schools operating through extraordinary circumstances".
However, she said the draft Education Renewal Programme, released last month, had "clearly signalled the inevitability of some rationalisation of facilities in areas that have been impacted by land damage and population movement".
"Where and how this might be best achieved is still being explored. The situation is still fluid and the ministry does not yet have all the information around land damage and people movement it requires to make any decisions in this regard," Longstone said.
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