NZ schools look offshore for help

By Te Kāea

Principals across the country are finding it difficult to deal with an increase in challenging behaviours by children of P-addicted parents and are calling for specialised international support.

Principals' Federation president Whetu Cormick says principals can't cope with the increase of challenging behaviours from students.

"We're hearing stories from colleagues across the country about the increasing number of young people whose parents have methamphetamine in their homes and of course for some of our young people they're affected by that drug directly from their mothers."

Mr Cormick says teachers are unsure how to deal with the growing behaviours.

"We're hearing from principals across the country who have these young people in their schools that they find it difficult to manage their behaviours because we don't have the research to support our schools."

The age-standardised stand-down rate increased from 24.4 stand-downs per 1,000 in 2000 to 30.1 stand-downs per 1,000 in 2006, but has subsequently decreased to 23.5 stand-downs per 1,000 in 2017.

There were 17,724 stand-down cases in 2017, which were received by 13,341 different students.

Cormick says the current special education service needs to be strengthened. 

"There are not enough psychologists who are there and the ministry at the present time are going to market overseas [UK] to bring in psychologists from overseas to help our schools."

But while the search for new psychologists offshore gets underway, Cormick says immediate solutions are still needed.

"We need more financial support to be able to employ our teacher aides to support these young people in the classrooms, because typically they need one-to-one support."

More research is needed in New Zealand around the effects of methamphetamine on young people, which will help teachers understand and better manage those challenging behaviours.