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Govt. Commits $34.5 Million To Special Education

Education Minister Nick Smith, at the PPTA Principals Conference in Christchurch today, announced a further package of support for Special Education 2000 including additional support for special classes, increased funding for the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme and additional support for isolated special needs students.

"Special Education 2000 is a very complex package of additional support for pupils and the Government is determined to make it work. This additional funding is targeted at components of Special Education that need additional resources to be able to provide for students needs, and has arisen out of consultation with the sector."

"At the beginning of the year, I expressed concern that mainstreaming should not be the only option for special needs students. As part of Special Education 2000, funding that had previously supported special classes has been directed to mainstream options. This created huge uncertainty for the 2100 students and their families over the future of the 291 special units in schools around New Zealand. These include assessment classes, special classes, experience units and intellectual disability units."

"Today, I am announcing new funding of $21.9 million over the next three years, to enable the continuance of these units. Decisions about the effective use of special needs funding is best made by schools. Specific funding will be allocated to students with existing Section 9 agreements. As they move through the school, the funding will be transferred to the school clusters. This will enable schools the flexibility to re-allocate the resourcing to other options they believe better meet the needs of students."

"A further concern has been the higher costs of meeting the needs of special needs students in isolated schools. The previous formula for support has funded each student at the same rate regardless of location, or number of special needs students at a school. A further $6 million over the next three years has been allocated to the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme to assist these students."

"There will also be a $6.6 million increase over the next three years to the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme funding rate for special needs students. This is consistent with the recent increases in operations grants, and takes account of increased costs. The average amount received by students verified as having high or very high needs goes up by 3.6% to $7,511 and $12,950 respectively."

"These additional funds are to be provided in the Supplementary Estimates and are part of the overall $200 million for Special Education 2000. This commitment shows the Government is serious about delivering a quality education to students with special needs."


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