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Minister: Ruru school to stay open

14 April 2005
Media Statement

Minister: Ruru school to stay open

Ruru Special School and Waihopai School Park Unit in Invercargill will remain open as a result of a review into special education in Southland, Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope announced today.

However the report, which focuses on special education provision for the approximately 150 students with high and very high needs who attend schools across Southland, calls for the development of a more collaborative and complementary approach to services.

"There are a number of key recommendations within the report, which I have accepted either in full or in part, that will assist in achieving improved outcomes for children and young people with special education needs and their families in Southland schools," said Mr Benson-Pope.

The key recommendations include:
- That the Ministry of Education's Group Special Education (GSE) takes the responsibility for the service coordination of specialist services and therapies as the one provider for Southland.

- That the future role of Ruru Special School should evolve and develop within the network of schools and specialist provision in Southland. In particular, it is recommended that Ruru Special School should be supported by other schools to develop Ruru as a provider of specialist teaching across Invercargill schools.

- That Ruru Special School continue as a base site for some children and young people who meet the newly agreed national criterion for special school enrolments.

- That Ruru Special School’s satellite classes in regular schools should remain as an option so long as there are sufficient enrolments and where classrooms are available.

- Students who are currently enrolled at Ruru Special School and who don’t meet the newly agreed national criterion for special school enrolment will have their current enrolments “grandparented” with their enrolment reviewed at natural transition points in their schooling.

- That a small and well focussed Implementation Advisory Group be set up by the Ministry of Education's Group Special Education, to advise and support the Ministry, Ruru and Waihopai schools and other schools to implement the recommendations of the report.

- That the Southland District accesses the new funding made available by the government in 2004 for the development of special education and resource networks. This funding will support the consolidation of the .1/.2 specialist teacher resource allocated to students who are verified under the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme (ORRS) and the cost of funding the itineration of specialist teachers when aggregation of the .1/.2 ORRS teacher support is achieved.

- That there is the continued provision of units in regular schools for some children and young people with high and very high needs (e.g. the Waihopai School Park Unit and secondary school units).

"I acknowledge that these recommendations may present new ways of thinking and working for all those involved closely in special education and the education sector in general in Southland," said Mr Benson-Pope.

"However, I am convinced that the sincere commitment to developing welcoming schools, improved educational outcomes and the positive participation in schooling for all children in Southland will provide the motivation for all those involved to work positively together.

“This report and recommendations provides exciting opportunities for schools, specialist providers and in particular children and young people with special education needs and their families.”

“I want to acknowledge the involvement of the many people across Southland who attended meetings last year to provide their views on what should be achieved for children and young people with special education needs in Southland schools.”

ENDS

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