House of Science charitable trust's Hutt Valley branch fears closure over funding shortage

A charitable trust dedicated to improving science education for thousands of children fears its Hutt Valley branch will have to shut its doors due to a critical funding shortage.

House of Science has launched an urgent appeal for sponsors so it can continue to provide innovative bilingual kits - designed to boost resources and increase teachers' confidence. 

The concept was born in 2014 after an Education Review Office report highlighted that over 70 percent of schools lacked an effective science programme.

"Students work in small groups and become scientists, they learn the skills and the content required for a really strong foundation in science going into high school," said Chris Duggan, founder of House of Science.

A recent House of Science survey found 95 percent of teachers had increased subject understanding thanks to the kits.

"The main barriers that we identified 10 years ago were the lack of resources and the lack of confidence - and our resource kits and professional development programme tick both those boxes," Duggan told Newshub.

The kits are in use across the country, but Hutt City and Upper Hutt City Councils are withdrawing funding for the trust's local branch. 

According to Hutt City Council, it's had to make tough decisions while working on its long term plan, including prioritising water infrastructure - admitting there's just no more room in the budget.

"It is going to affect my teaching. It'll be harder to get these resources and not just for myself. It'll be pretty much all the schools in Hutt region," said Naenae Intermediate teacher Rebekah Elisara. 

And it isn't just the teachers who are worried, with some students even presenting submissions to Lower Hutt mayor Campbell Barry last month. 

"I got kids myself and they use them in their school. And they were telling me 'mum, we need to keep these kits. They really do help us learn our science,'" said Elisara. 

The trust has set up a Givealittle campaign but is hopeful the local business community will step up, so 15,000 tamariki can continue to find joy in science. 

"We're looking for donors, for sponsors, for funders. Ultimately, we need $100,000 a year to run the operation," Duggan said.