31st October 2012
Closure of Christchurch and Nelson Special Schools devastating for students, families and staff, NZEI says
The Government's decision to close two of the country's four residential special schools is devastating for students, their families and staff, NZEI President Ian Leckie says.
He says families and staff would feel let down by the failure of the Government to listen during the two-month consultation process that preceded Minister of Education Hekia Parata’s final decision today.
Closing the Halswell and Salsibury schools in Christchurch and Nelson will place more pressure on mainstream schools and on families of children with complex special needs, he says. People with specialised skills will be dispersed.
“The Ministry has failed to guarantee long-term funding for the children who will be mainstreamed,” he says. “The Minister is offering extra funding for mainstream schools for only up to two years to support high-need students moved from the residential schools. Beyond that time schools will be expected to fund specialised support needed for these children from their own budgets.”
“The special schools are staffed with highly trained and qualified special education teachers. Schools will struggle to provide that level of care, especially once targetted funding is removed," he says.
"This will inevitably place further pressure on teachers and families of these children. And the fear is that these children won’t get the specialist care they are entitled to."
"Sadly, these changes appear to be driven more by fiscal imperatives than by sound evidence-based practice," says Mr Leckie.