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Lack of political support for Disability Strategy

Lack of political support for Disability Strategy concerning

The Inclusive Education Action Group (IEAG) is alarmed at Allan Peachey’s recent comments and lack of awareness around special education provision in New Zealand.

Allan Peachey, Associate Spokesperson for Education for the National Party, claims that we need more special schools but research shows that children with disabilities do better when they experience education in regular schools.

Increasing the number of special schools in New Zealand is inconsistent with the New Zealand Disability Strategy that aims to provide children with disabilities an inclusive education experience. It is no longer acceptable to segregate children with disabilities from their siblings and friends in their local communities. It is also inconsistent with the Ministry of Education Statement of Intent, that has 'inclusion' as one of its core values.

The research shows that children who experience segregated education, such as special schools, are more likely to face challenges when entering the workforce or participating in society.

“We are aware that many parents have reluctantly sought out segregated provision because of challenges they have faced in the regular system. However we are also aware of many regular schools in New Zealand who include and teach children with disabilities and do an extremely good job,” says Ian Armstrong, spokesperson for IEAG.

In his statement, Allan Peachey also makes mention of special school places being capped. However, figures from the Ministry of Education show an increase in special school enrolments with numbers rising every year from approx 1950 places in 1999 to approx 2700 in 2006.

“If parents are saying regular schools aren't working for their kids, the solution is for Government and the education sector work towards meeting the objectives of the New Zealand Disability Strategy,” adds Mr Armstrong.

ENDS

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