‘Broken’ system leaves disabled students without support
Ninety-nine percent of educational professionals are calling for a complete overhaul of the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS), which provides support for high needs students who require specialist support in the classroom.
IHC New Zealand has surveyed almost 600 whānau, educators and allied professionals on what they’d like to see change as part of its submission to the High Needs Review.
Overwhelmingly, respondents have vented their frustration at yet another review that they feel will do nothing more than tinker around the edges.
IHC Advocate Trish Grant says it’s abundantly clear that disabled students’ families, and the professionals who support them, are increasingly concerned about a lack of adequate support for disabled students to be at school, and for schools to do their best by them.
“Disadvantage for disabled ākonga has gone on for too long,” says Trish. “We have very little confidence that the Review will result in any meaningful transformation required for disabled students to get a fair deal.”
“We know that current education laws and policies aren’t fit for purpose, and urgent change is needed to ensure disabled students can succeed alongside their non-disabled peers, no matter where they live or what school they attend.
“Parents and educational professionals want individualised and flexible approaches to reasonably accommodate disabled ākonga, rather than the rationing system currently in place.
“This Review completely ignores the fact that education law and policies are working against disabled students and schools.
Trish says that a child’s right to inclusive education begins with well-equipped and prepared schools that can provide accessible learning and accommodate a child’s individual requirements.
“A whole school and whole system approach are required,” says Trish. “Anything short of replacing the current policy and resourcing framework will fail these students who need individualised support.
“There needs to be greater coordination and alignment with other government disability support, such as Enabling Good Lives, health, justice and child protection.
In its submission to the High Needs Review, IHC has listed 18 recommendations that should be taken by education system stewards to ensure that disabled ākonga have equitable access to, and outcomes from, a quality disability-inclusive education system.
“So much has been spent on propping up a system that fails students and schools,” says Trish. “It’s time we invested in supporting disabled students in ways that allow them to thrive at school.”
Quotes from survey respondents
“After nine years of schooling, I can confidently say her being ORS-funded is only of benefit to the school to provide token education. It’s mostly babysitting.” – Whānau/family
“The system is broken. I can only support my child to attend school sporadically if I work a few hours a week.” Whānau/family
“There are huge gaps at every level of education that impact on children and young people who learn differently to be understood, supported appropriately and succeed while at school and beyond.” - Education professional
“Children need to be included as much as possible, and inclusion should be meaningful and relevant benefitting everyone, not a token gesture just to show that the child is included.” - Education professional
“Early intervention is crucial - why do we have to fight to get the resources we need, and we know the children need to be successful? It is simply unacceptable.” - Education professional
“It is frequently difficult to match students at higher and lower needs with appropriate levels of support. The current system is numbers-based, rather than actual level of need-based.” - Medical professional