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Changes To SES Fail To Clarify Outstanding Issues

For Immediate Release
21 February 2001

Structural Changes To Special Education Service Fails To Clarify Outstanding Issues

Statement from the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind (RNZFB)

“The RNZFB is disappointed to note that the structural changes to the Special Education Service (SES) fails to clarify outstanding issues related to delegating funding responsibilities to schools and other providers (contestability of fundholders). We are also concerned by the potential for the delivery of the expanded core curriculum to become fragmented, particularly for blind and vision impaired learners.

"Whilst we note fragmentation and lower efficiency as well as higher costs occurred through the contestable funding process of the past we are not convinced, from the information available, that the new model would prevent this occurring again. This is especially so if the proposed multi fundholding system remains.

“The RNZFB seeks a guarantee that detailed criterion will be developed that ensures future fundholders will not be able to selectively choose those students they wish to fund.”

Ms Holden noted that lower efficiency and higher costs (diseconomies of scale) caused largely by multiple and selective fundholders will continue. Risks that SES faced associated with multiple individual schools fundholding will continue with the Learning Support Network. She also notes that fundholder diseconomies and risk shifting were two areas highlighted in last years review as requiring attention and yet, these issues appear to remain under the new proposal.

The issue of delivery models remains wide open. The RNZFB is concerned to ensure that whatever service delivery is proposed for blind and vision impaired students, that it remains a cohesive national service model through which standards are developed and monitored.
Ms Holden highlights that the issue related to the proposed reference groups requires further clarification. On the one hand reference groups may be consulted at the national, regional and local level yet there is no guarantee that these stakeholders will be funded, listened to or even what type of advice will be sought. If the expectation is that the reference groups are to find their own funding then either fragmentation will occur, in fact that's what happened to SES, or no advice will be available.

Due to the low incidence, but high needs of blind and vision impaired learners, the RNZFB continues to support Vision Education Agency (VEA) as the national body to co-ordinate services, build relationships and develop the delivery of the expanded core curriculum to blind and vision impaired students.

“The fact that important bodies such as VEA, may be excluded from fund holding whilst being able to provide advice at the national level is extremely disappointing. At the very least we must ensure they are able to continue advising.”
ENDS
For more information contact Jane Holden, Chief Executive, Royal NZ Foundation for the Blind, Mob. 025 854 742

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