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Govt Breaches Agreement Over Special Needs Units

Special Needs Units Under Threat Yet Again - Government Breaches Agreement

Last Thursday evening QPEC sent an urgent letter to the Minister of Education Trevor Mallard concerning letters sent by the Ministry last week to many schools which threaten their special needs units and breach the agreement reached following the 5 year legal battle – the Daniels case - which was settled only a couple of months back. (Copy of letter attached)

The letters apply pressure on schools to withdraw their RTLB (Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour) staffing from special needs unit and require the teachers to itinerate. There are about 30 schools which have RTLB’s in positions within units.

This has been an ongoing, ideologically driven campaign from within the Ministry for a number of years now and its implementation has forced many special needs units around the country to close despite, in most cases, passionate appeals from parents and schools.

This policy is a continuation of the national party policy of 1998 to disestablish all special needs units by removing their staffing entitlements.

The ink is barely dry on the agreement reached in the Daniels case in which the government agreed to work to find ways to maintain special needs units as a viable option for parents and yet pressure over RTLB positions creates the very situation which forces units to close.

The Minister has not yet responded despite the urgency involved with Ministry officials descending on schools this week to enforce the Minister’s “expectations”.

The timing itself – just 2 weeks before schools close – resembles grubby tactics we have seen many times in education. Parents, teachers and schools have a right to expect better.

John Minto National Chairperson

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