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High needs school leavers minimum age lowered

Hon Ruth Dyson
Minister for Disability Issues
Minister for Social Development and Employment

3 March 2008 Media Statement

Minimum age for very high needs school leavers lowered

Students with very high needs will no longer have to stay at school until they’re 21 in order to get funding says Social Development and Employment Minister Ruth Dyson.

Cabinet today approved changing the age at which very high needs students are eligible for transitional services funding from 21 years to the minimum school leaving age.

“The situation has changed quite dramatically over the last decade for disabled students; their expectations have risen, their opportunities have risen, and it is time our policy changed to reflect that,” said Ruth Dyson.

The government has changed the eligibility criteria as a result.

“Our Labour-led government still expects that some very high needs students will want to be able to remain at school until 21 to ensure they reach their educational potential, and this will remain unchanged.

“But for those who wish to leave school earlier, very high needs students will now be able to do so at an age that is appropriate to their personal circumstances.”

Students in the very high needs group have extreme or severe difficulty with learning, hearing, vision, mobility, language use or social communication. They require high levels of specialist teaching, or specialist assistance from teacher aides or caregivers in a mainstream classroom.

Each year 50 to 80 very high needs students leave school at age 21 and an estimated 15 to 20 make enquiries about leaving earlier.


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