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New frontline support to promote mental health and wellbeing in schools, as a response to COVID-19.

On June 19, 2020, Associate Minister of Education Tracey Martin announced 40 new Curriculum Leads will be established within the regions to work with schools, kura, early learning centers, and kohanga reo, starting Term 1 2021. Curriculum Leads are a new specialist role, created specifically to set up and support schools in delivering mental health and wellbeing education to students, as part of the New Zealand Curriculum.

Curriculum Leads will work with principals, teachers and boards, to deliver Health and Physical Education, and Hauora programmes. This will include the revamped Relationship and Sexuality Education Guidelines, which teaches students about healthy relationships. As well as the Wellbeing and Mental Health Guidelines. Leads will provide the specialist frontline support that has been missing for so long in the education sector, and is a step toward more of a focus on learner and educator wellbeing. 

The Curriculum Lead roles are the first part of a $32.8 million wellbeing support package for the entire education system, anticipated to be rolled out over the next four years. The wellbeing package has been established in part as a response to the expected increase in wellbeing and mental health needs of students following COVID-19.

While mental health and healthy relationship education will be primarily teacher led, the wellbeing package also apportions funding to provide resources for parents/whanau to use at home. Parents/whanau will be able to use these resources to support their children at home and continue the conversations around mental health and healthy relationships. 

Student wellbeing has been a topic of concern in primary and secondary schools over the last few years, with many schools struggling in this area of teaching. As well, recent education conversations, Korero Matauranga, have highlighted students, whanau, communities and educators have all called for a shift for the education sector to focus more on student and educator wellbeing.

Curriculum Leads will have expertise in the New Zealand Curriculum, Te Marautanga of Aoteroa and Te Whariri. They will also be experienced in and have knowledge around working with students with disability and extra support needs and engaging in sensitive conversations to support these children and young people. 

More information is expected to be released about these roles, and the overall wellbeing support package over the coming weeks/months. 

For more information around the Curriculum Leads click here

To find out how you can be involved in the Education Conversations/Koero Matauranga click here

References

Education.govt.nz. (June 22, 2020). New Curriculum Leads signal start of more focused approach to wellbeing. Retrieved from https://www.education.govt.nz/news/new-curriculum-leads-signal-start-of-more-focused-approach-to-wellbeing/

Martin. T. (June 19, 2020). New roles to help health and healthy relationship teaching. Beehive.govt.nz. Retrieved from https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/new-roles-help-health-and-healthy-relationship-teaching

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