Children let down by MIA Minister

The Minister of Education could end the seclusion of school children in small, dark rooms today if she wanted to, rather than leaving the welfare of those children in the hands of an Ombudsman’s review, the Green Party said today.

The Ombudsman and Children’s Commissioner today announced they will be investigating the use of seclusion rooms in schools, following reports that more than two schools have used them.

“The hands-off attitude displayed by Hekia Parata is letting children be locked in small dark rooms, instead of getting the education they deserve,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said today.

“For the Minister to say that an issue is intolerable is a bit rich, when she has the ability to make things better, right now, for children in seclusion by simply banning the practice.

“I am pleased that the Ombudsman and Children’s Commissioner are showing leadership on ending seclusion being used in our schools, despite Hekia Parata’s failure to step up.

“Schools do need to be better supported for dealing with students with high levels of learning support, but they also need the practice of seclusion rooms to be banned.

“My Select Committee inquiry into dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism spectrum disorders in schools heard from hundreds of children and families about the difficulties that they are put through to get an education.

“If teachers had universal professional development on learning support needs, then alternative strategies would be available rather than putting kids in small dark rooms.

“The Ministry of Education is due to release some guidelines on seclusion later this year. This is a total let down since these ‘guidelines’ will not be enforceable.

“A small number of schools are not handling the challenges of dealing with children that have learning support needs. These schools need to know seclusion rooms are not acceptable, and they need direct instruction and support from the Government to treat children properly,” said Ms Delahunty.

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