Principal sings praises of child counselling

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Cromwell Primary School is bringing the benefits of counselling to young children.
Principal Wendy Brooks said the school had noticed over the last few years they seemed to be getting ‘‘more and more’’ children who ‘‘present at school with challenges that just require some one-on-one support time’’, Mrs Brooks said.
‘‘Sometimes it might be tricky things at home, pressure at home that presents itself at school.’’
Secondary schools were provided funds for a school guidance counsellor, but they were not funded in the primary school sector, she said.
Mrs Brooks worked three days a week for Cromwell Primary School and two days a week for the Community of Learning group of education and training providers, which included all of Cromwell’s schools and early childhood education centres.
The Ministry of Education provided staffing to cover the two days while Mrs Brooks was working for the Community of Learning. The school decided to use this allocation to enable teacher Andrew Ede to set aside part of his week to be the school counsellor.
‘‘That is ours to allocate as a school, and so we looked at where our pressure points were.’’
He was able to use the time for a mix of group sessions and one-on-one counselling, Mrs Brooks said.
‘‘Cromwell is a growing town — you’ve got pressures with high rents, people having to move out of rentals that are being sold.’’
‘‘Change happens all the time, and it is about how we respond to that and how we deal with that.’’
Mr Ede was able to work with children on ‘‘a whole range’’ of issues, outside of the classroom environment, Mrs Brooks said.
‘‘He is one of those guys who just has a lovely relationship with children.’’
He had been able to increase his knowledge, taking part in courses including counselling, mindfulness, and restorative practice, she said.
There were a ‘‘real mix’’ of challenges children were facing, but the scheme had been ‘‘really successful’’ at finding strategies to help them.
Next year, Mrs Brooks was hoping to see if there was a way of extending the scheme across both Cromwell Primary School and Goldfields Primary School.
But it was difficult, as primary schools were not provided funds for a counsellor in the way secondary schools were.