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National to boost funding for special needs

Hon Hekia Parata

National Party Spokeswoman for Education

5 September 2014 Media Statement

National to boost funding for special needs

National will support more students with special education needs by boosting funding to help them learn in the classroom, National’s Education Spokeswoman, Hekia Parata, says.

“Under National the economy is progressing well and we’ll be back in surplus this year. One of the benefits of a strong economy is that we can afford better quality health and education services for New Zealanders.

“A re-elected National Government will invest up to $18 million per year over four years to provide an additional 800,000 teacher aide hours to support children who have conditions that affect their learning, such as dyslexia, ADHD, and Asperger syndrome.

“These students do not always meet the threshold for intensive special needs support, but National recognises they also need assistance to learn and make the most of the opportunities they have at school.

“Our plan to boost teacher aide hours will mean that students who need more individual time are given the help they need, and that the teacher in the classroom feels more supported to teach.

“This is another step towards helping these students. It’s estimated that around 4000 students will benefit from this initiative. There are also flow-on benefits for all students in the classroom, who will have additional teaching support in the classroom.

“I’m confident parents will welcome this policy which addresses a specific area of need while also providing benefit to all students,” Ms Parata says.

The National Government has increased funding for special education needs by 26 per cent over the past five years to $530 million, reflecting its ongoing commitment to ensure our education system is inclusive of all children.

“We have made big strides in education but there is still more to be done. We will continue to ensure that the education needs of all children are met, so that every child and young person can be successful at school,” Ms Parata says.

Questions and Answers

Who will benefit from this investment?

There is a group of students who have conditions that affect their learning, such as dyslexia, but do not reach the threshold to qualify for intensive individual special needs support. These students currently receive some support, like special needs grants, but this new initiative means they will receive one-on-one support. This is another step towards helping students with these conditions. It’s estimated that around 4000 students will benefit from this initiative. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education will be asked to do further work to determine the number of children who have learning conditions such as dyslexia, so we can look at providing more support beyond what has just been announced.

Is this new money?

The bulk of the funding will be new money, but a small proportion of it will be reprioritised from within Vote Education. It’s envisaged the initiative will start in term one next year.

How will it work?

The students who will receive this support will be identified locally by schools, with support from the Ministry of Education. This might include, but is not limited to, those with learning conditions such as ADHD, ASD, dyslexia or Asperger syndrome. The costing is based on each student receiving five hours of teacher aide funding per week. Schools would receive a total allocation and then have flexibility to allocate the hours across the students that need it most.

Will this mean more teacher aides?

Currently, there are 15,000 teacher aides in New Zealand – who assist in a number of areas including special needs, reading and writing. The initiative will increase teacher aide hours, not necessarily the number of teacher aides. It is expected many schools will increase the hours of the teacher aides they currently employ.

Will this funding be taken from existing Special Education programmes?

No. Over the past five years the National Government has increased funding for special education needs by 26 per cent to $530 million a year. We have developed a new Intensive Wraparound Service that supports young people to live in their home community. We have also created 40 clusters across New Zealand to ensure equitable distribution of special needs support. National is committed to continuing to fund support for higher needs students, to ensure effective implementation of our inclusiveness policy across all schools.

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