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Further Investment In Children With Additional Needs

A National Government would improve education for children with additional needs by intervening earlier and investing $683 million over four years to provide more teacher aides and a learning support funding boost for every school, National’s Education spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“We want all children to have the support at school they need to be happy, healthy, skilled and motivated learners.

“Around one-in-five children need extra support at school due to learning, disability, behavioural, health or other challenges. Right now, too many of these children are missing out on what they need to fulfil their potential.

“We have heard the cry from parents and schools who say the current system of learning support is a complex web of form-filling, hoop-jumping and uncertainty, with too many children going undiagnosed and those with mild-to-moderate needs often missing out on the extra support they need to succeed.

“This unmet need is a drag on New Zealand’s rate of educational achievement and takes a heavy toll on families, teachers and other students whose learning may be disrupted.

“We have developed an eight-step plan to identify children’s needs earlier and reduce barriers to successful learning at school.”

National’s eight step plan:

1. Better and earlier identification of needs through enhanced early childhood screening, more input from early childhood educators and a revamped B4 School Check at age three to be recorded in Child Passports.

2. Individualised learning plans for children with additional needs to enhance reporting and accountability to parents and to ensure information about a child travels from school to school, teach to teacher

3. Flexible funding provided directly to schools for use in supporting children with additional learning, behavioural or mental health needs

4. An increase in the number of teacher aides in our schools

5. Support all schools to provide mental health skills training to students

6. Simplify and streamline learning support funding to reduce the hoops parents and schools must jump through to access support

7. Expand trials of multi-disciplinary teams, comprised of GPs, nurses, guidance counsellors and mental health workers

8. Reinforce requirements for children’s needs to be met no matter which school they attend while also making it easier for families to choose schools that have deployed expertise in teaching students with specific additional needs

“This plan will make a big difference for tens of thousands of children and families. It will also be a game-changer for New Zealand education as a whole, by ensuring more students leave school with the literacy, numeracy and other skills they need to contribute to our communities and our economy.”

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