Call for more disability and learning support in education reform

The proposal to shake up New Zealand’s education system needs to have a focus on disability and learning support, the coordinator of a Taranaki charity says.

Conductive Education Taranaki Trust coordinator Craig Nielsen raised his concerns on Monday night at a public meeting focused on the Government’s proposed reform of the education system.

The public meeting follows a report and a series of recommendations made to the Government by the Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce. 

Last year the Taskforce met with 200 different groups around the country – including students, principals, parents, teachers, Māori and Pacific focus groups, employers, community support groups and Ministry regional staff. It has since reported its findings, and that report and the reccommendations in itare now out for public consultation.

The report covers eight key issues and makes a number of significant recommendations for change – including the creation of 20 Education Hubs, which would assume many of the powers of the school board of trustees.

Nielsen told the crowd of about 50 people he was concerned the Government would not be able to cover the full costs of the special education sector, and that charities would have to continue their constant fundraising efforts.

As a part of their report the Taskforce recommended that Education Hubs play a role in ensuring children with disabilities or learning support needs are welcomed and supported at every school.

The proposed creation of the Education Hubs and the ability of these hubs to actually attract the expert skills needed were a hot topic at the public meeting.

National Party spokesperson for education Nikki Kaye

The Future of Education public meeting was part of a series of meetings held around the country by the National Party spokesperson for education Nikki Kaye.

Kaye told the crowd the reform was set to be the largest in 30 years and she wanted to ensure it was a collaborative process.

She said she was fearful the proposals would take power away from parents and the community, and has previously said National had “serious concerns” about the proposal to chop 10 Ministry of Education regional offices and set up 20 Education Hubs instead.

Public feedback on the recommendations in the Tomorrow’s Schools Review Reportcan be made until April 7. You can do this by visiting the hub for the Education Conversation | Kōrero Mātauranga

Words and pictures by Olena Williams.