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Parent advocacy service under Labour

Labour
2000 web siteLabour education spokesperson Trevor Mallard said he envisaged that concerns about the treatment of children with special needs will make up a significant portion of the work of a parent advocacy service promoted by Labour.

Plans for a Parent Advocacy Service within the office of the Commissioner for Children have been outlined by Labour as part of its education policy for schools.

His comments followed the release of an Auckland survey of 200 parents of children with special needs which showed widespread dissatisfaction with the current service.

"Labour established a Parent Advocacy Council as part of the changes to the school administration system 10 years ago. It was seen as a balance to the greatly increased powers that went to boards. Two years later it was scrapped by National despite there being clear evidence of the need for such a service. There was no replacement.

"Earlier this year, the Office of the Commissioner for Children revealed that they had 431 school related complaints last year - up from 136 in 1995. More than half of those were special needs cases.

"The office was not established to deal primarily with education conflict but they currently make up more than a third of total complaints as parents often feel they have nowhere else to turn. Under Labour, that role will be formalised with a special purpose unit established especially to deal with school related complaints

"The Auckland survey points to some of the concerns that parents have faced that could be taken to the Parents Advocacy Service. They include discriminatory practices to limit the attendance and participation of children with special needs. Labour will give those parents a voice," Trevor Mallard said.

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