School Support Staff: Collectively Making Resources Count
A number of reports have been produced over the last few years that are relevant to the employment of support staff in schools. The first was the Review of Schools' Operational Funding (December 2006) which recognised that an increasing need for non-teaching staff in schools was creating pressures on schools' operational funding and that further work was required to ensure support staff were effectively utilised. This report was followed by two further reports, one focusing on the resourcing of ICT in schools, and the second (Review of Schools' Operational Funding: Non-teaching Staff Workforce - Final Report (October 2007)) looking in more depth at the non-teaching staff workforce.
The two reports noted especially that the numbers and diversity of support staff in schools had increased hugely as a result of diverse influences such as the Special Education 2000 policy, the need for more sophisticated data management, the broadening of the curriculum and an increased emphasis on the pastoral care of students.
At 29.4% of the total numbers in the school workforce, and at a cost in 2009 of $400 million, the question about whether or not this workforce is as effectively used as it might be becomes an important one in thinking about value for money of the Government's investment in education.
Despite much change in schools and the resulting change in the nature of the support staff workforce, there has been no work done previously with a specific focus on its effective use. There have been few if any, resources provided to schools that discuss the effective use of support staff specifically, with more general guidance documents being provided that are intended to cover both teaching and non-teaching staff. The exception to this is the provision of a resource kit for schools to assist with the effective use of teacher aides.
In this current project, the Support Staff Working Group's brief is to consider what could be done, within current school management and funding arrangements, to optimise the efficiency and effectiveness of the support staff workforce in contributing to learning outcomes for students. There has been much comment over time about the current policy setting concerning the funding of support staff, but this matter is outside the terms of reference for this project.
This second report of the Working Group is centrally about the characteristics of support staff in New Zealand schools and management capability and practices in schools with respect to the employment of support staff.