The Green Party today announced a major $115 million a year package of support for special education services in schools, including a doubling of the number of children who can access the highest levels of support and more help for pre-school children.
The package is the latest spoke in the Green Party’s school hubs plan which delivers the health and social support kids need onsite at school, and is a key component of the Green Party’s election plan to stop poverty and learning difficulties getting in the way of children reaching their full capabilities.
The key policy points in the Green Party’s plan to improve inclusive education include:
- Double the number of children who receive the Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS) by providing an additional $95 million a year in funding.
- Increase funding for the Early Intervention service by $15 million each year so preschool children with special needs are identified and given the support they need.
- Provide an additional $5 million to our school hubs’ free after school and holiday programme fund to increase services for children with special needs.
- Undertake a comprehensive review of the design, delivery, and funding of special education in New Zealand.
“Every New Zealand child needs enough of the right support to thrive,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.
“Every child has the right to an education, at their local school, that meets their individual needs and allows them to fulfil their potential.
“In order for every child to do well at school, we need to design the system so it’s responsive to their particular needs.
“Successive Governments have short-changed children with special education needs.
The result is those kids are being denied a good education and schools are stretched too thinly meaning other children’s education can suffer too.
“Currently only about 7900 kids get access to the highest level of special needs support, but double that number that help, say those in the sector.
“An arbitrary cap on the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme means only 1 percent of kids are funded for support, regardless of the actual number of kids who need it. That’s unacceptable.
“Schools are increasingly forced to use their Special Education Grant, designed for moderate needs children, to cover for the Government’s lack of support for higher needs kids.
“The chronic underfunding means less resources go towards children with moderate needs. Too often these kids are short-changed as well.
“Other kids in a classroom can miss out too, as their teachers spread themselves thin.
“In Government the Green Party will stop this short-changing of our children’s education.
“We’ll ensure twice as many kids are eligible for ORS, delivering the highest levels of support to an additional 8000 children.
“This, in combination with our previous commitment to centrally fund school support staff, will mean moderate needs children are guaranteed the professional in class support and resources they need.
“In addition, we’ll pump an additional $15 million into the Early Intervention Service to provide earlier assessments and much better quality of service for preschool children.
“A young child who has to wait months for the educational support they need to learn, can be lost forever.
“We’ll also ensure that children with disabilities are able to attend the same after school care service as their siblings. Starting in our schools hub, we’ll provide the funding and training necessary to ensure that OSCAR approved providers are set up to meet all kids’ needs.
“Most importantly, in Government we will undertake a comprehensive review of the design, delivery and funding of special education in New Zealand, so that it is focussed on meeting children’s needs.
“Our school hubs policy is about ensuring all children have equal access to a good education, whether their parents are poor, they are sick, or they have a disability or learning difficulty.
“We will all be better off when every child is able to reach their potential,” Mrs Turei said.