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A New Direction for Special Education

19 February 2001 Media Statement

A New Direction for Special Education

Monday 19 February 2001

The Government today announced a new direction for the future delivery of special education services.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard and Associate Education Minister Lianne Dalziel said that Specialist Education Services (SES) will be disestablished, and its services transferred to a new directorate within the Ministry of Education. The directorate will be set up in 2002 and will establish a Learning Support Network with regional and local resource and support centres.

The Ministers said the decision was based on the Wylie Report recommendation that SES be disestablished, and that a new national network of support and resource centres for special education be developed under the aegis of the Ministry of Education. A range of options emerged from the submission process and subsequent consultations.

Trevor Mallard said the decision would enable the new direction to take full advantage of the professionalism and experience of SES staff.

" SES staff have performed well under difficult circumstances and I know many will welcome the opportunity to be part of the new direction. Concerns about SES can be sheeted home to the contestability and fragmentation of services introduced by the National government," Trevor Mallard said.

"The Government is proceeding with the option that provides the best basis for improved co-ordination both within the education system and with other social services to address the fragmentation that currently exists for children, young people and their families.

"There is a clear need for special education to be responsive to local needs while at the same time offering national consistency, leadership and strong professional support for the specialists who work in special education. Placing responsibility for SE2000 within the Ministry creates a direct line of accountability to Government," Trevor Mallard said.

Last year the Government announced some specific changes to SE2000 to address immediate needs, Lianne Dalziel said.

"Today we are announcing the structural framework that will enable SE2000 to meet its goals. Further decisions with respect to staffing issues and the question of magnet schools and units, are still to be made this year.

"The next round of decisions will, we believe, complete the task that this Government had set itself, to address the implementation faults inherent in SE2000, to ensure that the principles underpinning SE2000 are upheld," Lianne Dalziel said.

Parents who made submissions during the consultation period called for accountability, advocacy and attitudinal change. Lianne Dalziel said she had seen and heard too many reports of discrimination, hostility, exclusion, powerlessness and despair.

"We have taken the opportunity in today's announcement to remind all schools that both the Education Act and the Human Rights Act provide the right to education for children and young people with disabilities and special learning needs. This Government is committed to ensuring that their right to education is protected and upheld in a meaningful way," she said.

Those wanting more information can call the SE2000 free-calling number 0800 622 222.

Media Contact:

Attached: Special Education Review timeline
Special Education Review timeline

6 April 2000 Associate Education Minister Lianne Dalziel announces a Review of certain aspects of Special Education 2000, to be conducted by Dr Cathy Wylie, in accordance with both coalition parties' manifestos.

15 June Budget sees Government allocating $48 million over four years to facilitate and respond to findings of the Wylie Review.

31 July Dr Wylie reports back to Government after receiving over 1200 submissions.

1 August Ministers release final report into the Review of Special Education 2000. The Wylie Review highlighted significant concerns around the implementation of SE2000.

14 August Lianne Dalziel calls on schools, parents of children with special needs and other interested parties to comment on the recommendation to disestablish SES and replace it with a network of district support and resource centres.

26 September Over 600 submissions received from parents, schools, the early childhood sector and special education organisations.

11 October Lianne Dalziel announces first steps of a package to help schools to support children with special education needs from early 2001. The package will take $30.2 million of the $48 million budget allocation, over four years. The package included: more flexibility for inclusion in the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme; new funding for students with fragile health needs; amending the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme to review only students whose needs were likely to change significantly; new funding for teacher aides' professional development; funding to develop and distribute best practice guidelines and resource materials; and funding new facilitators.

January Consultation with key stakeholders on proposals around SES.

19 February
2001 Government announces SES to be disestablished, and a new directorate to be set up under the Ministry of Education in 2002.

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