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Special Education Review Must Be Able To Deliver At The Chalkface

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The education sector union NZEI Te Riu Roa says a review of special needs education looks good on the surface but must be able to deliver to special needs children and their families at the chalkface.

"Success for All" sets out changes over four years to the way special education is delivered and will release an additional $69 million into the system. It will put in extra specialist resources for children in their first three years of school and aims to have 80% of all schools being fully inclusive of special needs students by 2014.

NZEI President Frances Nelson says special education funding is complex and moving towards a needs-based system is a positive step, but a lot will depend on a highly-skilled and well-resourced specialist workforce of teachers and support staff.

"Wanting to provide extra specialist support and having the resources to do so are two different things. Most special education workers are frontline staff employed by the Ministry of Education and they are in short supply. We need to ensure that recruitment and retention issues around the special education workforce are addressed to make these system changes work."

"Teachers and support staff in mainstream schools also need better support and training so they can be as inclusive as possible and meet the needs of all children in their classrooms," she says.

NZEI says on the face of it the review looks good but wants to ensure there is no devil in the detail. It is pleased that many of the recommendations in its submission to the review have been taken on board.

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