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Special Education funding: Questions and Answers

14 April 2005

Special Education: Questions and Answers

People often talk about special education being under resourced. How much does the Government spend on special education each year? The Government will spend $388million* on special education in 2004/05. This is $99million more than 1999/00, or a 34% increase. To put this figure in context, this is about the same amount the government will spend on new schools, classrooms and other school buildings across the schools sector in 2004/05.

Funding for school-based special education staffing has increased by 91%, increasing from $69million in 1999, to $134million in 2004. School-based operational funding of special education rose by 55% from $38million in 1999 to $59million in 2004. Specialist services funding increased by 10.1% to $141million. *(excl GST)

How does special education funding work? The key components of the resourcing framework in 2005 are: Initiatives for students with high and very high needs: Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Schemes (ORRS) for students with ongoing high and very high support needs who meet certain criteria. About 1% of all students meet this criteria Severe Behaviour Initiative for students experiencing severe behaviour difficulties. It targets the 1% of children with the very highest behaviour needs Speech - Language Initiative for students with severe speech-language difficulties. Funding is available for the approximately 1% of children with the highest communication intervention needs Early Intervention for children aged 0-5 years with high and very high support needs The School High Health Need Fund for students with high health needs

Initiatives for students with moderate special education needs, mostly provided by schools: Special Education Grant (SEG) which every state funded school receives Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) which all state funded schools can access and are managed across clusters of schools Enhanced Programme Funding for schools that have a disproportionate number of special needs students Moderate Support Initiatives which provide specialist support for students with moderate-level visual, hearing and physical impairments Provision of additional teaching and specialist support (Supplementary Learning Support) for students who have high moderate special education needs and require additional specialist and teacher time Early Intervention for children in early childhood education centres and homes with moderate development needs. Funding is provided to support early intervention programmes for children under five. This package supports approximately 5% of children and families who have the highest intervention needs.

Other support provided includes transport assistance, support through the Correspondence School, special schools, and specialist equipment and technology.

What will today's announcement of new funding cover? Three key areas of special education received a total increase in funding of $30.7million over the next four years: Supplementary Learning Support 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 meet the criteria for ORRS funding. They will now be provided with additional specialist support and specialist teacher time. Another 50 Learning Support Teacher positions will be created. The additional 500 students will be progressively identified during 2006, and will receive additional specialist teaching time and other specialist services.

Teacher aides 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. Schools, particularly small schools, with children in the ORRS scheme or the Severe Behaviour Initiative will receive increased funding for their teacher aides.

Effective assessment The third initiative 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. Effective assessment for learning is a critical step in ensuring meaningful and effective teaching for children and young people with special education needs. Assessment exemplars and professional development will be provided to GSE staff and school-based specialist and resource teachers, who will in turn provide assessment support to regular teachers.

Today's announcement was the government's response to a series of reports that came from public meetings. What prompted the Ministry of Education Special Education to convene the public meetings? The meetings were convened as part of the Daniels Case Settlement between the Crown and 14 parents of special needs children.

It was agreed that the Ministry of Education, Special Education would collect and analyse information about special education resources in each of its 16 special education districts.

The Ministry also agreed to promote local meetings to share this information and to seek feedback from parents and educators.

Other influences leading to compiling the local service profiles included: A report commissioned by government in 2000 noted the need for seamless, accessible and integrated services (The Wylie Report) Sector consultation in 2001 (Working together: how the sector sees it) further reinforced the need to address fragmentation, unclear accountabilities and inequalities of resourcing and opportunity Contribution to the achievement of the Ministry’s mission statement to Raise Achievement and Reduce Disparity through improved outcomes for children and young people with special education needs Government and Ministry directions for an integrated approach within education and the wider social sector The Ministry of Education’s commitment to the New Zealand Disability Strategy

What happened at the meetings? The meetings gave educators, parents and others interested in special education: information in each district about national and local resources and services, across the whole special education sector, both money and people an opportunity for people to identify their aspirations for children: what was working; what was not and what their priorities for change were.

Apart from today's announcement of new funding what else is happening as a result of the meetings? The meetings have already begun to shape the way the Ministry of Education Special Education works.

Every district now has a parent and stakeholder reference group which is working with district managers to improve service provision locally and respond to local meeting feedback.

Every district has a process for incorporating the feedback into their next financial year’s business plan (July 2005-2006) and each district is working with reference groups on the development and implementation of these plans.

The feedback from parents on their aspirations for their children and young people will be considered carefully by all in the sector – regular educators, special educators as well as the Ministry of Education in their service provision and policy development role.

The release of these reports will facilitate wider discussion within the education sector.

The feedback has also helped Government prioritise new funding. Parents and schools said that children with high moderate needs should get more support and that teacher aide funding to schools needed to reflect increased costs.

Background Information: What is Special Education? Children and young people may require special education services if they: have a physical impairment have an intellectual impairment have hearing or vision difficulties (a sensory impairment) struggle with learning, communicating, or getting along with others, or have an emotional or behavioural difficulty.

An everyday learning environment or classroom, by itself, may not be enough for them to learn to the best of their abilities. They may need extra help such as: an individual education programme, a behaviour plan or programme, specialist teaching, a therapist to help with movement or speech and language, or the use of special equipment.

What services are provided? Early Intervention There is a range of qualified, experienced staff who work with young children with special education needs from birth through to the time they start school.

Early intervention staff provide services to children with special education needs at home, in an early childhood education setting and as they start school.

These services may include: an assessment of a child's skills and education needs. planning, such as helping put in place an individual plan for a child, outlining relevant teaching practices, any specialised equipment required, short-term and long-term social and learning goals, timeframes, and at-home follow-up activities general information and support to families, educators and other professionals expertise and knowledge-sharing, such as designing ways to improve social, learning and communication and behaviour management specialist services, such as speech-language therapy and specialist teaching education support workers, who support specialists and early childhood educators and work with children

Primary or secondary school If a child or young person has special education needs the school they attend will provide support and services. This assistance may include access to: specially trained teachers who work with students with moderate learning and/or behaviour difficulties – (Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour - RTLB) therapists such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists who work with students with physical impairments individual support such as a teacher’s aide special programmes or settings (such as a special education unit) specially trained teachers for students with vision impairments (Resource Teachers: Vision) advisors and teachers who work with children who have hearing impairments (Advisors of Deaf Children and Resource Teachers: Deaf).

Other support available from the Ministry of Education, Special Education for students with special education needs may include: a subsidy or allowance for transport assistance so they can travel between home and the nearest school alterations or additions to school property to enable them to enter and carry out regular activities within state schools a wide range of resources and equipment to help them learn.

Most children receive special education support at the school they attend. If a child or young person has special education needs that are defined as high, staff at their school, will coordinate services from the Ministry of Education, Special Education, or another fund holder of government money, such as a special school.

Three percent of all children or young people are defined as having high needs and qualify for these extra services. Around eight percent of children in total are likely to receive special education support.

This extra support may include: therapists who provide assistance to students with high communications needs. They are able to assist families and teachers and provide programmes to meet students’ needs. (speech-language therapists) therapists who provide assistance to students with physical impairments. They are also able to provide advice to teachers and families. (occupational therapists and physiotherapists) psychologists work with those who need assistance to learn and with behaviour, social and emotional development. They provide appropriate psychological and educational assessments and interventions advisors who work with children with behavioural and learning needs. These advisors also work with teachers to help adapt their programmes (Special Education Advisors) teacher aides who provide learning support support workers who work with children with behavioural and communications needs, and provide one-on-one support for children within schools under the direction of therapists, psychologists or advisors.

There are 16 Ministry of Education Special Education offices around the country.

Special schools Most children with special education needs attend regular schools. There are also different types of schools to cater for students who have high special education needs. They all have enrolment criteria. There are 26 special day schools. Regional hospital health schools have been established in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch for students with high health needs. There are two residential special schools to support students who have hearing impairments and one to support students who have vision impairments. There are also five residential schools for students who have a variety of educational and social needs.

ENDS

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