|Associate Minister's address to the Auckland Disability Law Workshop|
Associate Minister of Education's address to the Auckland Disability Law Workshop (February 12) an excerpt from the address follows:
...We need to make the education system more responsive, effective and flexible. And, while not all choices can be funded, we need to maximise the opportunities for parents to make important schooling and programme choices. Wherever a parent chooses to send their child to school, we must ensure that the right services and support are available to make that the best choice.
Choice, access to schooling, and access to additional special education support are important dimensions of the review. Quality provision, value for money and outcomes and accountability will also be considered as part of the Review.
Wherever I go I hear about the need for teacher training in special education - how important it is for families to have teachers who know how to work in partnership with them and support a child with a disability to learn. I hear about the need for professional development for all teachers so students with special needs can have their needs met irrespective of the class they are in or the subjects they choose. And of course, none of this will be effective if there is not strong leadership from the top so principal training is also critical. These areas are also part of the Review.
However, we cannot rely solely on regular increases in special education funding to make the improvements that parents and others are demanding. We currently spend $450 million per year on special education. An extra 51 million over four years was announced in Budget 2009 but the assumption looking at the review must be that there is no extra money available in the current economic climate.
... Parents and caregivers - along with Government - need to have a better sense of what students are achieving and what further changes we need to be certain that the system works for all students. I want to know how you think accountability can be improved...