‘There is no other school in South Auckland that my son fits into’

 

To honorable Chris Hipkins & team,

I have written a couple of times now to government in support of South Auckland Middle School remaining open and to stay in its current teaching model and wish to further support this submission.

Following recent media releases about Middle School West Auckland termination contract letters being actioned and ongoing media notifications about timelines for answers, this does nothing to reduce my concerns about what is going to happen with my son’s school “South Auckland Middle School”.

As per my previous communication to you, there is no other school in South Auckland that my son fits into.  It took me approx 8 months of researching each school in South Auckland and having interviews in person and over the phone with each of the schools to find the best placement for him and I believed South Auckland Middle School was the only school that had the potential at that time for him to have any chance of success.  We were fortunate that our application was successful and am happy to say that this has proven to be absolutely without a doubt the right school for my son.

He is 11 years old, moderate autistic with a mild intellectual disability.  He entered South Auckland Middle School (SAMS) at the beginning of 2018 as year 7 with an attitude that school sucks, that he was hopeless and all kids are bullies due to experience at previous school.  On National Standard levels he was graded as 2-3 years behind in most subjects with no aspirations to even try to learn, the only thing he was slightly interested in was reading which he was good at.

Since starting at South Auckland Middle School he is now doing homework, is interested in learning.  Likes going to school is retaining information learnt, has made his first ever real friends.  Has a fantastic rapport with the school staff,  learning to ask for help which is something he struggles with, and working independently.  He is driven to improve his grades and is working really hard to do this with a focus never seen before.

SAMS is very supportive of my son’s challenges and is very encouraging to him and we work together to help him find success every day.  It just couldn’t be a better school.

He asks me often …”mum is my school closing down?  Where will I go if that happens?”  I am just not able to answer these questions honestly because no one can give me an answer with any guarantee of what is happening with the school.

I understand that SAMS is STILL waiting for answers on submissions made to become a special designated character school but we won’t hear anything back until at least the end of July.  That timing is too long! Why does it need to take that long?

If the worst case happens and we need another school and considering last years efforts this doesn’t leave a lot of time to find any alternative solutions for my son which to be honest I would be stumped as to what to do and would have to probably just pick the best of the worst from the bunch and accept that the consequences will be my son will be set up to most likely fail in a standard state school.

In the last correspondence received from your honour Mr Chris Hipkins it mentions all the supposed funding that will be injected for special education aid into State schools.  If you break this down across all the schools in New Zealand this is a ridiculously low amount of money for the amount of children that currently require special assistance or additional aid in current state schools right now.  There are many children that I myself have come across just in one school alone (having experience first hand from being a Program Manager for an on-site after school program myself) and seeing myself the difficulties and challenges that the teachers have to face every single day with some of our challenged children, and some of these children have not even yet been diagnosed, and some are just from very challenged families for different reasons which unfortunately and sadly is now part of our everyday society and those children don’t even qualify for help on the current systems!

Have you even heard the voices from the children themselves of what they want out of a school or from the Charter school they currently attend compared to previous schools?  I am sure you will find some interesting facts about what you call our “fantastic state school systems” out of the mouths of our children.  I would suggest you visit the schools before passing judgement, speak to the community, the parents and the children.

I would like to mention that as a comparison for instance in a court situation of custody matters the child’s voice has to be heard which is generally done through the means of a lawyer for child along with both other adult parties voices being heard…this is the law!  In regards to the child’s education changes and we are talking currently about middle school children who are of age (approx 9-14years) and are quite capable of having an opinion and having a voice, should have a chance to also be heard through some method as should the parents, however this is appearing to be being overruled by an egocentric politician who has an agenda goal to meet and is unwilling to even consider what anyone has to say to the contrary.

I applaud and support Mr Poole’s (Villa Education Trust) efforts with his fight to keep our schools open and running as close as possible to the current teaching model in place.

I look forward to your soonest response.

Kind regards

[redacted]

 


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