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Deaf Education to Undergo Unprecedented Change

Deaf Education in New Zealand to Undergo Unprecedented Change

It’s not business as usual for students who are deaf or hard of hearing in New Zealand. New facilities and a new governance structure are heralding a new era of deaf education that recognizes the changing needs of students as well as the resources and technologies best suited to meet them. The previous boards (of Kelston Deaf Education Centre and van Asch Deaf Education) once oversaw deaf education on a geographical basis were combined to achieve more efficient and effective delivery of services for all students who are deaf or hearing impaired nationwide.

According to feedback from parents during extensive consultation there will be four immediate impacts for students and families once the changes take place:

• Equitable services available throughout the country so support is available for students in metropolitan and/or rural settings

• Resource and information will be more readily available through new technologies and streamlined communication strategies

• Openness to the individual needs of the child and a plan of action that responds to these needs will result in different approaches at different times of their schooling.
• Progress-reporting in a timely manner to assess the effectiveness of the program supporting the student based on realistic goals set
Minister of Education Hekia Parata today [12 December 2012] welcomed the newly elected members of the Combined Board of Trustees for Kelston and van Asch Deaf Education Centres to Parliament House.

The new board, elected from a constitution that extended voting rights, for the first time, to parents of deaf and hearing impaired students from throughout New Zealand, was formed after a year of intense consultation.

A national approach to service provision will increase opportunities for communication and sharing of knowledge and skills between the Deaf Education Centres and will allow for flexible services for deaf and hearing impaired students irrespective of whereabouts they live in New Zealand.

Now is the time to make sure that every deaf and hearing impaired child and their family has ready access to information and resources that recognise their needs and contribute to individualised learning. The Combined Board will be charged with developing a national outcomes framework for deaf and hearing impaired students during its first term of office to ensure that there are clear and transparent indicators of student achievement.

The Deaf Education Centres will provide even stronger leadership by making sure the achievement of deaf and hearing impaired students is closely monitored in a national database. A New Zealand wide view of deaf and hearing impaired students’ achievements will make a significant contribution to the Success for All – Every School Every Child, the policy declared following the 2010 Special Education review, which aggregated resourcing for deaf and hearing impaired students to the two deaf education centres.

The composition of the newly elected Board represents the perspectives of parents from all over New Zealand who want nationally consistent services that retain strong and responsive local perspectives.

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