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Speech: Roy - ORRS Extension For 400 Students

ORRS Extension For 400 Students

Hon Heather Roy, Associate Minister of Education
Wednesday, November 18 2009

Hon Heather Roy speech to launch ORRS Extension; Fergusson Intermediate, Upper Hutt; Wednesday November 18 2009.
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa

Paul, Board Chair, teachers, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen. Good morning, and thank you for your very warm welcome.

I am delighted to be here this morning. One of the best things about being Associate Minister of Education is that I get to visit many schools and see for myself the exciting work being done by students and their teachers.

Your school motto is 'High Expectations For All' and having done a little research prior to my visit this morning I can see this is most certainly the case. I was very impressed to read about your participation at the Battle of the Bands competition, one student's recent success at the New Zealand boxing championships, and your crea

As Associate Minister of Education with responsibility for Special Education I am also aware that Fergusson Intermediate provides an excellent support programme for students with special needs, and that those participating in this programme make enormous gains in their learning. I want to commend the great work that Fergusson Intermediate does with high needs students.

As I mentioned earlier this morning, your commitment to ensuring all students reach the best of their ability makes Fergusson Intermediate a particularly appropriate place to announce the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme Extension (ORRS). This is an important Government initiative that will see a large number of students with special needs better supported.

The ORRS provide resources to students throughout New Zealand with severe disabilities. This includes difficulties with learning, vision, hearing, mobility or communication. ORRS funding makes available teacher-aide time, specialist programmes and extra support from therapists. Approximately 7,000 students receive this assistance at any one time - most of whom will maintain this level of need throughout their school years.

In total, the Government spends $450 million each year on special education. In this year's Budget an additional $51 million was allocated to this area of education. Students throughout the country who have missed out on ORRS funding by frustratingly narrow margins in the past will now have the opportunity to obtain support through the expansion of ORRS. This programme will be known as ORRS Extension.

I am pleased to announce that this investment from the Government will see approximately 400 extra students with high and ongoing needs receive ORRS funding from the beginning of next year. These students will be funded at a slightly lower level than those with very high needs, but they will all have access to appropriate special education assistance to ensure they reach their potential. Although it is only a one-year programme, students who are placed in ORRS Extension will continue to receive funding until they leave school.

Alongside ORRS Extension I am conducting a Special Education Review. As the additional $51 million for ORRS funding is being looked at as part of the Review, ORRS Extension is a short-term approach the Government has taken to make this funding available to more students from the beginning of next year.

The Special Education Review is being conducted in two phases. The first - which is already underway - is examining how students access special education funding and services, and how this funding is allocated. We want to make sure that all

It is in the first phase that I will also investigate how the additional $51 million of ORRS funding will be allocated in the future. I anticipate that more students will be eligible for ORRS following the Review as we are able to make better use of Government funding.

The second phase will begin later this year and is going to examine issues relating to the workforce, service development and student transitions from school.

The Special Education Review will help to determine what is working well, and where improvement is needed, in this very important area of education. Our findings will assist in ensuring that support and funding reaches those who are most in need, that our teachers are well-equipped to support students with special needs, and that services are both responsive and appropriate.

The Special Education Review and the extension of ORRS demonstrate the Government's commitment to special education. In my time as Minister I have visited many schools throughout the country and have been impressed with the support that is being providing to students with special needs. Fergusson Intermediate is another example of this. The ORRS Extension and Review of Special Education contribute to further improving provision and commitment in this area and to ensuring that all students reach their potential.

It is a pleasure to be here today to launch the extension of ORRS, and I would like to thank you for hosting the occasion.

Thank you.

ENDS

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