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Stepping up for kids with special needs

Stepping up for kids with special needs

The Government is investing an extra $62.9 million of operating funding over the next four years to better assist children with special education needs to learn and achieve, Education Minister Hekia Parata says.

“We believe every child and young person in New Zealand should have the best possible education,” she says. “In the case of students with special needs, a strong education increases the chance of them becoming more independent and better able to participate in and contribute to the community.”

Budget 2015 allocates $39.5 million to provide Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS) support for about 500 extra students. This means that around 9,000 children with the highest special education needs will be supported by the scheme.

It pays for specialists such as speech-language therapists, psychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and provides additional teacher time and teacher’s aide time.

The Budget also includes new spending of $23.3 million for extra in-class teacher’s aide support for 1,500 students from Years 1-13, which began in February this year.

These are students who have special education needs such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, but who do not qualify for ORS support.

The extra classroom support will assist teachers to personalise students’ learning to encourage their participation and achievement.

“This is the first phase of our commitment to provide extra teacher’s aide support for an extra 4,000 students,” Ms Parata says. “Eventually, we aim to provide an additional 800,000 teacher’s aide hours a year.”

Ms Parata says spending on special education has increased significantly in recent years - up 26 per cent from 2008 to around $530 million in 2013/14.

The Ministry of Education is updating special education, engaging with schools, parents and education and disability sector partners to look at better streamlining of support and easier access to services.

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