Green Party initiates inquiry into education special needs

The Green Party has initiated a Parliamentary Inquiry into dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism spectrum disorders in schools in New Zealand.

Following a request from the Green Party, the Education and Science Select Committee has today agreed to investigate the identification of and support for students facing the significant challenges of dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism spectrum disorders.

“So many students are missing out on education because their learning differences are not identified early enough and help is not made available. We want to change the system so every child has a fair go,” Green Party Education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

Significant numbers of New Zealanders live with these conditions.

-13,000 children between 2-14 have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum disorder (including Asperger’s syndrome),
-autism is estimated to affect 40,000 people,
-dyslexia is estimated to affect 70,000 people, and
-dyspraxia is estimated to affect 70,000 schoolchildren.

“Of course, these figures are speculative because the identifying of these learning issues has been so contentious,” Ms Delahunty said.

“There needs to be strong processes and support in place to enable these learners to make the most of their educational opportunities.

“Investigations at an early level of education are important before students may become discouraged from education at higher levels.

“Of particular concern, has been the inequality in access to support for these conditions. Decile 10 schools are seven times more likely to get Special Assessment Conditions assistance than students in Decile 1 schools.

“It can cost well over $700 to get these special assessments done. Parents and schools need assistance to ensure that these conditions are picked up and students get the assistance that they need,” Ms Delahunty said.

The Terms of Reference include:

-Investigate current screening in schools

-Identify best educational practice

-Investigate why Special Assessment Conditions differ so greatly among schools

“While this is great news for special needs learners, I am disappointed that the Select Committee has not taken up my Te Reo in schools inquiry as well.

“I urge a wide range of parents, schools, and teachers to participate and engage in the Select Committee process that is going ahead.

“It is very encouraging to have the support of the other parties on the Select Committee to address this problem. I hope it will result in students being able to get the right help that they need,” Ms Delahunty said.

 

 

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