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Government funding for special schools alarming

Government funding for special schools alarming

6 May 2011

Government has a missed a key opportunity with a $22.8 million funding announcement this week for the ‘Success For All – Every School, Every Child’ initiative (the response to the Special Education Review in 2010).

The initiative aims to develop a more inclusive education system, but building more space in special school sites and special units at mainstream schools is merely an investment in keeping disabled students in a segregated ‘special’ environment.

“By providing a separate ‘special’ education, disabled students are simply not going to have the same opportunities for academic and social experiences as non-disabled students. Disabled students will continue to be significantly disadvantaged when they leave school and are looking to find work or to participate in their community,” says Jonathan Tautari, Policy Leader CCS Disability Action.

“There are a multitude of barriers for people with disabilities to gaining employment, including their education and social experiences. And, while most disabled people want to be in the workforce, they are over represented as beneficiaries, as highlighted by Government’s Welfare Working Group.”

“Our disabled people young people need to be leaving school able to contribute with skills to take them into fulfilling employment.”

“This money would be much better spent by providing more support and space in mainstream classrooms. Making all schools accessible by providing mandatory training for teachers to develop the skills and confidence to work with a diverse range of students and create an inclusive environment. An environment where all disabled children and young people learn and contribute alongside everyone else.”

We have just celebrated 10 years of the New Zealand Disability Strategy which provides a vision for an inclusive society. All government departments must align with its objectives to achieve a society that is inclusive, welcoming and supportive of people with disabilities. The Strategy is clear that best education opportunities for disabled people happen when schools are responsive to the needs of disabled students and teachers have an understanding of the learning needs of disabled students. Choices for disabled students and their families are limited when funding is used to develop a parallel education system.


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