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SES Q&A And Letter To Schools And Parents

Some Questions and Answers – Schools and Early Childhood Services

Why is there a need for a new structure for the delivery of special education?

As a result of last year’s independent review of certain aspects of special education (the Wylie Report), issues were raised about the ability of SES to deliver “…the high quality service to children and young people with special needs that is expected of it.” A significant issue that was raised was the effect of contestability in terms of increasing overhead costs for SES and the fragmentation that had occurred. The government believes that the problems identified in the review are best addressed by provision through a government department.

The public policy objectives of the changes are:

- To provide better co-ordinated services to children and young people both within the education sector and between other social service agencies;
- To provide more responsive service at a local level;
- To get better linkages between policy and operations

In addition, delivering special education through the Ministry of Education reinforces the importance of special education and will promote improved accountability.

What will the new delivery structure look like?

There is a lot of detail to work through but at this time we are envisaging there will be a separate structure (a directorate) within the Ministry of Education with responsibility for a small number of regional offices. These will in turn each have a number of local service delivery sites. There will be close links between the network of regional and local centres and the Ministry’s regional offices. (Referred to at this stage as the Learning and Support Network) The local centres will be focussed on delivery of services. An implementation team will work through the detail of these proposed structures, with a report to Ministers anticipated by 31 May 2001.

What happens about fundholding for the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme (ORRS)?

Schools that are currently fundholders will remain so for the 2001 school year. The Ministry will establish a single provider (referred to at this stage as the Learning Support Network), however, it will have the power to delegate to schools for their own students only. Fundholders will be able to continue to fundhold for their own students under this delegation. The Ministry will work very closely with the fundholding schools this year to ensure a seamless transition to delegation. To ensure a smooth transition, for the 2002 school year, fundholding schools are also guaranteed the levels of staffing and resourcing to which they would be entitled under the fundholding scheme for students enrolled at their school.

What opportunities will there be for stakeholders to have an input into the work of the new work of the Ministry?

The Ministry will set up reference groups to advise it at national, regional and local level. These will have representatives of groups with an interest in special education including schools and early childhood services, parents and disability sector groups.

When will it happen?

At this stage we are working towards an implementation date of February 2002. A key step is making the legal arrangements for the changes. These will be included as amendments to the Education Amendment Bill which is at present scheduled to become law in July. In addition, it will be necessary to work through the appropriate procedures in the employment agreements of staff involved in the changes.

What happens to services in the meantime?

SES will continue to provide services to schools and early childhood services. A key principle of the change will be to minimise the disruption to services to children and young people, their families and whanau and their learning institutions.

What happens to SES staff?

The Ministry of Education will work very closely with SES staff and their unions during the transition period. We are hopeful that the announcement will help settle uncertainty about their future.

What happens to RTLB clusters?

No change is proposed for the system for employment and management of Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour. The new structure in the Ministry will work closely with clusters in order to ensure better co-ordinated services for students.

What happens about young children and early childhood centres?

Services for young children and their families/whanau remain a high priority. Currently early childhood services are made available through accredited service providers and SES. Accredited service providers already receive funding through contracts with the Ministry of Education. The only change will be that the Ministry will in future also allocate funding for paraprofessional support.

What about Resource Teachers of Vision, Hearing, Physically and Intellectually Impaired?

Because the Ministry will be able to employ teachers, specialist resource teachers may be best included as part of the Ministry teams. Further consultation on this will occur before any decisions are made.

How will units and magnet schools be affected?

Units and magnet schools may be affected by the changes to fundholding arrangement outlined above. However, the main focus of possible change for them will be any proposals about staffing arising from work currently underway on the recommendations in the Wylie report. There is to be a report to Cabinet on this in June 2001.

How will these changes improve services to children and young people and their families /whanau?

The changes are designed to improve services in four main ways
- there will be increased emphasis on the voice of parents and whanau through advisory reference groups
- the Ministry will be able to co-ordinate interagency services at a national, regional and local level with other government departments such as health and welfare ;
- there will be a more direct link between the policy the government approves and the way it is carried out;
- there will be better co-ordinated linkages between special education and other aspects of education. One example would be the links with the Ministry’s work with Iwi partnerships.

What options did the government consider?

The government considered the following
- A refocussed SES This option would restructure SES, cutting down staff at the national and middle management levels in order to provide more service delivery units at the local level for each regional office.
- Stand-alone support & resource centres. This option would set up as about 30-40 separate Support and Resource Centres throughout the country which would employ psychologists, therapists, early intervention staff, parent information and support staff.
- Enhanced school-based structures (clusters) This option proposes the grouping together of a number of existing school-based clusters, with employment of all specialists, including those in early intervention, by a host school under the management of a cluster committee.
- Regional resource & support centres In this option there would be four regional support and resource centres, set up as Crown entities, each with about 7-10 delivery centres working at a very local level.
- The core public service In this option, special education services would be provided by the core public service, as a part of the Ministry of Education. There would be four regional offices and a network of local delivery sites for learning support.

What were the criteria against which the options were measured?

17 criteria were designed:

- Educational
- Appropriate access to and involvement in services for children and young people
- Appropriate access to information and support for parents to enable them to make informed choices
- Appropriate access to services and for Maori and Pacific family/whanau and communities
- Credible to stakeholders
- Provides professional leadership in special education
- Delivers services equitably and efficiently regardless of geographic location
- Provides flexibility within national guidelines
- Consistent and compatible with broader education objectives; and
- Provides effective and efficient transition to the new model by 2002

- Machinery of Government
- Enables effective co-ordination and linkages across early childhood education, the compulsory schools sector, and across agencies, both within the education sector and outside (DSS, CYFS, ACC); and
- Aligns the interests of the organisations responsible for delivering special education with the policy objectives of the government

- Organisational Design
- Is viable in size and structure and can aggregate resources to achieve economies of scale
- Effectively minimises Crown risk, both through transition and beyond
- Minimises compliance costs for stakeholders
- Has accountability mechanisms that are cost effective (e.g. simple design, clear roles and responsibilities, clear performance, accountability and review mechanisms); and
- Encourages the development and maintenance of professional skills in special education and the retention of professional staff

- Financial Costs, Benefits & Risks
- Is cost effective in the long term

When will we know more?

Further detail of the changes will need to be carefully worked through. We need to have regard to the undertakings for consultation in the employment contracts of staff involved. You will be regularly updated throughout the year as decisions are made.

19 February 2001

Dear Schools, Early Childhood Centres, Parents and Special Education Organisations

Further Announcement about Special Education

As you are aware, the Government has been considering the submissions received on the recommendation from the Wylie Report that Specialist Education Services (SES) be disestablished, and that we develop a new national network of support and resource centres for special education, under the aegis of the Ministry of Education. A range of options emerged from the submission process and subsequent consultations. These were all measured against a number of educational and, (to a lesser extent), organisational criteria.

Last year, we announced some specific changes to SE2000, to address immediate needs. Today, we are announcing the structural framework that will enable SE2000 to meet its goals. There are also further decisions to be taken this year, with respect to staffing issues and the question of magnet schools and units.

Cabinet has decided today that SES will be disestablished next year, and service delivery will be transferred to a new directorate within the Ministry of Education. The Ministry will establish a Learning Support Network with regional and local resource and support centres.

A Supplementary Order Paper is being prepared for referral to the Education & Science Select Committee, so there will be an opportunity for you to make submissions at that time.

The Government has decided to proceed with the option that we believe provides the best basis for improved co-ordination both within the education system and with other social services, to address the fragmentation which 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.

To assist with a smooth transition to the new structure, we will continue to work very closely with schools, the early childhood sector and families. We have enclosed a Question and Answer Sheet, which should answer any queries you may have, however, if there are any other questions, please call the SE2000 phone-in line 0800-622-222.

Finally, there will be further Special Education announcements this year. You may be interested in knowing that three words emerged from the consultations with parents of children with special learning needs: Accountability, Advocacy and Attitude. Many families reported their experiences of discrimination, hostility, exclusion, powerlessness and despair. They are seeking greater accountability from schools for all Special Education funding (including the SEG and the cluster funding). They are seeking effective advocacy when having to deal with schools and early childhood centres. And they are seeking a change in attitude, whereby the attitude of the inclusive schools becomes the benchmark for all schools.

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 upheld in a meaningful way.

The next round of decisions will, we believe, complete the task that this Government has set itself of addressing the implementation faults inherent in SE2000, in order that the principles that underpin SE2000 are upheld.

Yours sincerely

Hon Trevor Mallard Hon Lianne Dalziel
Minister of Education Associate Minister of Education

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