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Increase in funding for special education

April 14, 2005

Budget 2005 $30.7million increase in government funding for special education

Funding for three key areas of special education will be increased by $30.7million over the next four years, Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope announced today.

The announcement coincided with the government's release of 16 regional reports and a national report, containing the feedback of students, parents and education sector organisations who attended 395 public meetings held around New Zealand in 2004.

The government has increased funding for special education by one-third since 1999, with total funding rising from $290million in 1999 to $388million this year. This latest increase in funding, which is part of Budget 2005, will see additional spending on three areas identified, particularly by parents and teachers, as a concern.

An increase of $16.9million goes to Supplementary Learning Support to increase the number of students eligible for this funding from 1000 to 1500. These are students with high levels of need but who do not qualify for ORRS funding. They will now be provided with additional specialist support and specialist teacher time.

The second initiative is a $9.8million increase in funding for teacher aides. This will help ensure that schools can meet the special needs of students receiving support through ORRS or Ministry of Education Special Education behaviour services, by meeting a greater proportion of the actual cost of employing teacher aides. Mr Benson-Pope says this has been a key concern of schools.

The third is $4million to develop effective assessment for students with special education needs. This will provide teachers with more support in assessing the learning needs of children and young people with special education requirements.

"The government has listened to the issues raised by parents and teachers who contributed their views at public meetings last year and part of our response has been to increase funding in these three important areas," says Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope.

"However, the call from those within the special education sector for more special education services and funding was just one theme to emerge. Others included improved staff training, smoother transitions between educational settings and improved cooperation between all parts of the special education sector.

"Parents also wanted a stronger voice in their children’s education, they wanted schools to be more welcoming and the barriers to children participating more fully in education overcome.

"The reports I am releasing today will therefore form an important basis for future planning. The government is committed to working with the special education sector on all these issues.

"The vision of an education sector that values children and young people with a disability remains a priority and we will strive to provide a learning environment for students that gives them the best opportunity to participate in learning along with their peers," says Mr Benson-Pope.

Summaries of the national report and relevant district special education reports have been posted out to parents, educators, and community groups, together with details of the Budget 2005 funding increases.

"I want to thank everyone who attended meetings and all those who contributed feedback," said Mr Benson-Pope. "Parents have a crucial role to play in their children’s education and the release of these reports heralds an important step towards a more collaborative way of working."

The 16 district reports and the national report are on the Ministry of Education website at: www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/LetsTalk. District reports are also available at Ministry of Education, Special Education offices around the country.

ENDS


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