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Minister Launches Teacher Resource Handbook

A new handbook for resource teachers supporting schools and students with special needs was launched by Associate Education Minister Lianne Dalziel in Hamilton today.

The handbook has been designed as a reference resource for teachers working within the RTLB (Resource Teachers: Learning Behaviour) initiative, to assist them in their work with schools and students with learning and behaviour difficulties. The manual is being distributed to every school, RTLB, and cluster around the country.

Speaking at the launch at Fairfield College, Lianne Dalziel acknowledged that as pioneers of the RTLB concept, Waikato principals and RTLB became unofficial advisors to other clusters around the country, which is why Hamilton was chosen for the launch.

“This handbook has been eagerly awaited by RTLB and clusters alike, and I am confident that they will find its contents extremely useful as they continue to work with students, teachers, schools and families,” Lianne Dalziel said.

The RTLB initiative was clearly valued by clusters and Lianne Dalziel pointed to Massey University research which showed that schools had indicated that their greatest satisfaction with Special Education 2000 initiatives came from the RTLB programme.

“One of the features of the RTLB initiative was government funding for tertiary training which this government has extended to an additional 40 newly appointed RTLB each year up to the year 2004.

“Many of the RTLB did not reduce their workloads when undergoing the training despite the enormous commitment the training entailed and many have furthered their study and professional development since!”


14 November 2001 Hon Lianne Dalziel Speech Notes

Resource Teachers Learning & Behaviour

Launch of the RTLB handbook
10am, Fairfield College
Hamilton

To the Principal and staff of Fairfield College, - thank you for providing us with the venue for today’s launch; Waikato Principals, RTLB, Board of Trustees, University and Ministry representatives, tena koutou, tena koutou, nga mihi nui kia koutou katoa.

It gives me great pleasure to be in Hamilton this morning to officially launch the new resource folder - RTLB Clusters – Effective Governance, Management & Practice. I am aware that a great many people have been involved in its development over the past year, and I extend my congratulations to you all on the production of such a fine document. I am confident that cluster committees and RTLB will find its contents extremely useful as you continue your work with students who have learning and behaviour difficulties, their teachers, schools and families. I am confident it will be a valuable reference, and an affirmation of policies and procedures for the majority of school clusters that are working effectively, as well. I know that it has been long-awaited.

In 1998, many of you, who are here today, became the country’s RTLB Cluster pioneers with the implementation of the Waikato Prototype.
I can imagine there were a few teething problems at that stage, and probably more than a few frustrations as various aspects of the policy were developed and implemented. I understand that many Waikato Principals and RTLB became the unofficial advisers to clusters across New Zealand. The decision to launch this resource folder in Hamilton recognises this, and was designed to thank you for the generous past, and ongoing, support you have given to other clusters and RTLB, and the contribution made by many Waikato Principals and RTLB during the development of the resource.

One of the features of the RTLB initiative has been the provision of Government funded tertiary training for each newly appointed resource teacher. Funding has been secured to train around 40 newly appointed RTLB each year up to 2004.

I wish to acknowledge the University Consortium representatives who are with us today. I believe you can be well-satisfied with the progress that has been made in such a short space of time.
And we should acknowledge the RTLB, many of whom did not reduce their workloads despite the enormous commitment the training entailed.
I am pleased to note that many have not stopped at the RTLB training either – I think they’ve acquired the taste for study and professional development.

It is only a few weeks ago that I spoke at the opening of the national RTLB Conference that was held here in Hamilton. For the benefit of those who were not present on that occasion, I repeat that I do believe that the work RTLB do is well appreciated and valued by schools.

The Phase Two report of the Massey Monitoring and Evaluation of Special Education 2000 policy shows that out of all the Special Education 2000 initiatives, schools indicated their greatest satisfaction came from the RTLB initiative. That wasn't the case with the Phase One report, and RTLB must be congratulated for what has been significant achievement.

RTLB, of course, do not work in isolation, and today I acknowledge the support of Principals and Board members for the cluster initiative. The time and effort required from those who have both established and served on cluster and management committees, developed effective policies and procedures, and supported the work of each cluster’s RTLB, is appreciated. We so often hear tales of what is not going well in clusters, that it is easy to overlook the good examples of effective practice.

I am concerned though that in some clusters there is not a clear understanding of the RTLB role and the consultative way in which RTLB are trained to work. The RTLB works collaboratively within the school to assist teachers achieve the best possible learning environments for students. They share with the classroom teacher and the Principal, not take away, responsibility for students’ learning.

It is this government’s acceptance of this role that has resulted in the decision not to allow RTLB to be employed as classroom teachers in the future. I am aware that the previous government allowed this practice to occur, when they were confronted with unit closures. However, that is not the good basis for decision-making.

We will assist the schools concerned transition through this decision, and we will work closely with them to ensure that they utilise the resources their students generate, and any transitional assistance they may need. However, I believe it is a misuse of the RTLB resource to tie up positions in this way, and the positions will be freed up for the use of the cluster.

The Government has recently agreed to new funding to assist schools that have accepted additional responsibilities to meet the needs of students with learning and behaviour difficulties – known as magnet schools. From 2002, schools will have access to a new Enhanced Programme Fund through the local centres of the Learning Support Network to support initiatives to meet the additional learning and support needs of this group of students.
The criteria will be developed shortly by a project team in consultation with schools and local and regional stakeholders.

In conclusion, I wish to acknowledge that it is the groups of people you represent today, who are out here making a difference to the education of students with exceptional learning and behaviour needs. RTLB, Cluster Committees, Principals and academics have combined to make this an important component of ensuring all students have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. I am pleased that you now have a new resource to assist and guide you in your endeavours, and declare “RTLB Clusters: Effective Governance, Management and Practice” to be officially launched.

Thank you. Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

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