Rebecca Wheeler and her son Brendan
My son Brendan is 7 1/2yrs old and has Moebius Syndrome, which means he has a lack of facial expressions, poor muscle tone and hardly any speech.
When school time came, if it wasn’t for my son’s Learning Support Officer, life for him would have been very hard. Even though we treat him as a normal child at home, school life would have been a lot harder if he didn’t have a wonderful Learning Support Officer to assist him in the classroom to keep him up with all the other kids.
If he didn’t have a Learning Support Officer, I would have had to go to his school twice a day to help him, and that would mean giving up work. Having the Learning Support Officer at school has given Brendan the chance to go to a mainstream school and have lots of fun and meet lots of people.
Claire has been a long-term temporary Learning Support Officer employed by the Department of Education for 10 years. She feels like this year is her "final" year of school because the student she has supported since he was in Year Three is now in Year Twelve and will soon leave the school. Claire says she feels very uncertain about the future and does not know whether she will have work next year.
“I can only be employed where or if there is funding available, regardless of my hard work for past 10 years. I have no guarantee of work next year or what is to come.”
Claire asks that people support the Students Need Us campaign and says students are missing out on vital assistance with their schooling because of cuts to staffing hours.
“Our team of Learning Support Officers are often stretched to cover all the areas for a numerous amount of students in our school who need this vital support. No student should slip through the system because of the lack of consistency and assured support for their daily school needs. By supporting us you are supporting students who are entitled to equal opportunities.”
Elizabeth Gawthorne has been a School Learning Support Officer at a local High School for the past ten years, working as a long-term temp.
She provides support and assistance to students who need extra help in the classroom, but although Elizabeth loves her job, she has no job security at all because she is a long-term temp.
Elizabeth has been asked back to the school every year but it’s tough because of the lack of job security, and not knowing at the end of the year if the school will have enough funding or enough students who need her help the following year.
Learning Support Officers are a fundamental part of schools and provide vital support to teachers, as well as helping students to reach their full potential and scholarship.
But there are many more Learning Support Officers in NSW, like Elizabeth, who do not have permanency, and their lack of job security means many students miss out on the extra support and help they need at school.
Julia Collier and her son James
Julia Collier’s son James is six years old and has a global development delay, which means he has an intellectual disability and he also needs a wheelchair.
James attends a mainstream public school, which has a special unit for students with a moderate intellectual disability. He loves school and Julia says his Learning Support Officer and teachers do a wonderful job.
“He loves going to school and is so happy there. He gets along well with the other students and is learning important socialising skills with his Learning Support Officer as well as handwriting, numeracy and reading skills.”
James is able to communicate with his Learning Support Officer through sign language, and Julia says he is getting excellent support.
There are ten students in James’ class, and because of the support provided by Learning Support Officers, students like James enjoy school and are able to grow and reach their full potential.
Without Learning Support Officers, students like James wouldn’t get the support they need.