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Budget contemptuous of children with special learning needs

26 May, 2016

Budget 2016 contemptuous of children with special learning needs, says Early Childhood Council

The Government’s 2016 Budget is contemptuous of the many thousands of struggling families who have preschoolers with special learning needs, says New Zealand’s largest representative body of licensed early childhood centres.

Early Childhood Council CEO Peter Reynolds says the Budget delivered many tens of million of dollars to school children with special educational needs, and ‘not a penny for children in early childhood education’.

Mr Reynolds described the Government’s special education strategy as ‘insane’.

‘They leave children with hopelessly inadequate special education support during their early childhood years when the most important cognitive development is occurring. They wait until the children’s development is seriously delayed, and their problems exacerbated… then they intervene, at school, to address the problems created by this neglect.’

Mr Reynolds described the state of professional development funding for early childhood education as ‘a national disgrace’.

He said a recent survey of early childhood centres had revealed:

• fifty-nine per cent of centres waiting, on average, more than three months for assistance with the assessment of children, and almost a quarter waiting more than six months;

• more than 80 per cent of centres indicating the results of this included the ‘delayed development of… children’; and

• 90 per cent saying they did not receive Education Support Worker support for the amount of time they required it.

‘I feel for the ECE teachers and managers struggling to cope with all kinds of children with special learning needs - without proper resource. I know teachers are attacked. I know some go home with bite marks and bruises. I know centre equipment gets damaged. I know some children with special learning needs take up the full-time attention of a single teacher, leaving other children with insufficient attention. And I know the difficulties this can cause for those managing early childhood education centres.’

Mr Reynolds said the Government knew exactly what was going on for children with special learning needs in early childhood education, ‘but they just couldn’t care less’.

The Early Childhood Council has a membership of more than 1100 centres, and cares for tens of thousands of children from one end of New Zealand to the other.


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