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Release of Special Education Review

Minister Trevor Mallard, and Associate Education Minister Lianne Dalziel today released the final report into the Review of Special Education 2000 and welcomed the series of recommendations and options within it.

The review, carried out by educationalist Dr Cathy Wylie, contains far-reaching recommendations that will be given careful consideration by the Government.

Lianne Dalziel said the review process had been invaluable.

"It's been a good process for letting the Government know what problems need to be addressed in special education in New Zealand. It is obvious from the report that there are deep issues and concerns within special education that cannot go unresolved."

"We have listened to the concerns of parents of special needs children and their teachers who told Dr Wylie the same thing they had been telling the previous Government for quite some time," she said.

Trevor Mallard said the Budget provides an additional $48 million over the next four years so the Government would be in a position to start any changes as a result of the review in time for the start of the next school year.

"However, many of the recommendations do not necessarily have great fiscal implications but look at options for changing the administration of special education provision. In particular, the report suggests two options for quite significant change to the Specialist Education Service including disestablishing it. Obviously this has widespread implications and will need to be considered very carefully.

"I will also be referring the report to the Ministerial Staffing Review Group that is currently developing a phased implementation plan to improve school staffing as the Wylie report includes suggestions for school staffing.

The review, which began in April concentrated on four key areas of concern. They were:

 Students on the margin between moderate and high special education needs in the school sector, with a view to assessing the extent to which these students are in fact receiving appropriate support;

 Issues and problems associated with staffing special education units, particularly with a view to assessing the degree to which viability can be determined by long-term enrolment patterns;

 The Special Education Grant, to assess the extent to which it enables schools to meet moderate special education needs of students, with particular reference to those students in "magnet" schools, small and rural schools and kura kaupapa Maori, and

 The effectiveness of recent changes to the special education transport policy, with a view to clarifying the future direction for special education transport policy.

About 1200 submissions were received from parents, schools and teachers, and other organisations.

The Ministers said decisions on the future of special education would be made around the end of September.

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