Special education proposals 'won't address disturbing behaviour'

11:10 am on 20 August 2015

Inadequate funding for special education in Northland is predominantly affecting Māori children, says the Te Tai Tokerau Principals Association

The Association has also questioned whether proposed improvements will make much difference.

The Ministry of Education is holding meetings in the region about its proposals, which include providing a single point of contact and supporting children in their achievements.

Association President Pat Newman said a recent survey found 14 percent of schools felt a lack of special education resourcing posed a risk to the safety of students and staff.

He said the proposals would not address that when the funding cake was not getting bigger.

"No matter how much money they say they are putting in that there is an absolute need to increase it if we're going to stop our kids failing and ending up in Northland Regional Corrections Facility."

But the Ministry of Education's head of sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said local special education staff in the rohe were already providing services over and above their targets and intended to keep working with schools and parents to improve services.

"Tai Tokerau is a priority for us and we fund special education services there at a higher rate than other parts of the country because we know schools and families there face particular issues.

"No decisions have been made yet about what improvements will be made to the special education system. The aim is for every child or young person, Māori or Pākehā, who needs extra support to be able to progress and achieve to their full potential - throughout their education.

"The update is looking at the whole education system including our responsibilities - from early childhood, through primary, secondary and tertiary education."

The four improvements being discussed at the forums are:

1. Improving early identification of the need for additional support and early response

2. Placing parents and education providers at the centre of making decisions and co-ordinating additional support the child requires

3. Providing a single point of contact, for as long as it's needed for everyone involved in the child's education

4. Providing a managed education pathway that supports the child to achieve - from assessment of need through to completion of their education, or for as long as they need additional support

Ms Casey said those improvements, if adopted, should have a significant impact on the way services are provided to schools in Tai Tokerau.