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Source: IHC

IHC is encouraged by the government’s announcement today that it will develop a new funding and support system for disabled learners. Jan Tinetti, Associate Minister of Education, said at the announcement that the current system is one of the most broken areas in education and needs significant change.  

IHC’s Inclusive Education Consultant Trish Grant agrees that significant system change is needed and says that it is crucial the new plan is child and whānau centred, strengths-based and underpinned by Enabling Good Lives principles.

“The plan needs to respond to all disabled students not just some – so many disabled students have not been able to access what they need to learn for far too long.

“Minister Tinetti has indicated that the changes will take time, mapping out a work programme that could take up to ten years to be fully implemented. Clearly the sector is impatient but it’s a big system to turn around and IHC hopes there is some early and sustained success.

“Instead of  the current siloed system, resourcing and access to specialist supports need to link across government agencies such as Whaikaha disability supports, WINZ and Te Whatu Ora. IHC welcomes the proposed “connector” role, working with the disabled learner, their whānau and the school to come up with an individualised, well-resourced learning plan.

“Robust monitoring and a cross-party agreement for implementation will be crucial. These problems have been around for decades and successive governments have acknowledged the problems and the disadvantage experienced by too many disabled learners.

“Families and disabled students have waited for over three decades for a fair and equitable education system. We sincerely hope that these announcements are not another example of empty promises. Families have long and bitter experience of having hopes dashed and trust broken.”

The announcement comes after a six-month Ministry of Education Highest Needs Review which heard about the urgent need for change because of the current deficit-based, rigid funding system that creates discrimination and lifelong disadvantage for ākonga, whānau and schools.

The need for change was also made clear in the recent ERO report on Education for Disabled Learners in Schools which provided strong evidence that the education system fails disabled students.

About IHC New Zealand

IHC New Zealand advocates for the rights, inclusion and welfare of all people with intellectual disabilities and supports them to live satisfying lives in the community. IHC provides advocacy, volunteering, events, membership associations and fundraising. It is part of the IHC Group, which also includes IDEA Services, Choices NZ and Accessible Properties.