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School closures another blow for at-risk kids

Associate Education Spokesperson

31 October 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT
School closures another blow for at-risk kids

Students most in need of extra support and help will lose out thanks to Education Minister Hekia Parata’s latest decision to close two of the country's four residential special schools, Labour's Associate Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

"These schools often represent the last hope for some of the most vulnerable kids in the education system. They need a level of intensive support that regular schools just struggle to provide.

"We’re far better off investing in getting these kids back on track while they’re young rather than forking out to lock them up later on.

"This is another example where Hekia Parata has announced what she was going to do, supposedly 'consulted' with those who would be affected, and then gone ahead with her original plan regardless of what they told her. She is just wrong in this decision.

“This is another class sizes-style move from the Minister who is putting costs ahead of our children.
“The Ministry of Education’s discussion document made it very clear this is about saving money. According to that document it costs about $84,200 per year to educate a student at a residential school, whereas the new ‘wrap-around’ model the Minister speaks of costs $29,000 a year. These kids are getting short-changed.

“Labour believes in an inclusive education system that meets the needs of every child. For the vast majority of kids, inclusion means attendance at their local school, supported where necessary with extra resources to ensure they can fully participate in all aspects of school life.
“But while we would love to see every child fully participating in mainstream classrooms, the reality is that some students need extra assistance. Labour believes that there is an on-going place for Residential Special Schools within the education system. One size does not fit all,” Chris Hipkins said.


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