School Changes Need to Consider Disabled Students
19 FEBRUARY 2013
Christchurch School Changes Need to Take into Account Disabled Students
One of New Zealand’s leading disability service providers, CCS Disability Action, today called on any changes to Christchurch schools to take into account the needs of disabled students.
CCS Disability Action Chief Executive, David Matthews, said that disabled students were more vulnerable to education changes than other students.
“We know from our Families Choices research that not all schools are welcoming to disabled students. The research showed that for the majority of families with disabled students choosing a school was a stressful draining experience.”
The decisions announced to date mean that 7 schools will close and 12 will merge. Mr Matthews said that some parents must now go through the process of choosing a school again. There will also be less choice of school in Christchurch, as a result of the changes. He hoped that this would encourage the remaining schools to be more inclusive of disabled students.
“With less choice than before, it is essential that the remaining schools are inclusive to all students. The Ministry should be supporting them to do this.”
The Government is also building or rebuilding 15 schools over the next 10 years. Mr Matthews said the Ministry of Education needed to ensure that these schools were built or rebuilt to the highest standards of accessibility.
“Public schools are there to serve the whole community. This includes all students with access needs.”
Mr Matthews said that there were a whole variety of possible issues with the changes for disabled students.
“The changes will see disabled students going to new schools. Is the infrastructure and transport at these schools going to be accessible to these new students? Will their current support programs and resources transfer smoothly and seamlessly to their new education setting? If there are difficulties, we expect the schools and the Ministry to rapidly resolve them.”
Mr Matthews was adamant that the focus throughout the changes must primarily be on students.
“The Minister of Education talks about modern schools. Modern schools are schools that include all students. Everyone has the right to a welcoming safe school in their community.”