Candidates urged to give fair treatment to disabled students
With the General Election only two months away, IHC is turning up the heat on election candidates to commit to fairer treatment of disabled students in schools.
IHC is running an advertising campaign asking candidates what their parties will do to make sure every disabled child can belong and learn at school, and how they will make sure every teacher has the knowledge and support to teach students with disabilities.
For years IHC has been telling the Government that disabled students are not getting the education they are entitled to.
“Disabled children have been treated unfairly by the education system for decades,” says Trish Grant, who has been leading IHC’s fight for inclusive education. It’s a fight, she says, that is all about human rights.
A complaint lodged against the Ministry of Education 14 years ago is close to a hearing in the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
IHC believes all learners should have the right support to take part and achieve in education.
IHC wants all voters to ask their candidates: What will your party do to make sure every disabled child is able to belong and learn at school?
The right to belong at school means being given the opportunity to go to school camps with classmates and to join in all the activities schools offer. Students also have a right to look forward to a future where they can join the workforce and participate in their communities.
IHC’s education complaint has never been directed at schools and teachers, but at the system that does not give schools enough resources, or teachers enough support and training to help disabled learners reach their potential.
Complaints about the education of disabled and neuro-diverse students reached a tipping point late last year with three reports echoing the concerns IHC has been raising.
In September, the Education Review Office (ERO) released two reports saying the families of many disabled learners were being discouraged from enrolling their children in early childhood services and schools. ERO found that as many as one in four parents were being asked to keep their disabled child home and that teachers did not have the training, support or capacity to teach students with diverse learning needs. It recommended the agencies report improvements by July this year.
Then in November the report of a six-month Ministry of Education Highest Needs Review was released.
The review, which received more than 1000 submissions, highlighted an urgent need for change because the current rigid funding system created discrimination and lifelong disadvantage for students, families and schools. The Government outlined a 10-year plan to turn the system around.
IHC has this year been talking to families and schools and gathering evidence and witnesses for the Human Rights Review Tribunal hearing. The hearing is likely to be in mid-2024.
“We will make contact with you when the formal evidence-gathering phase begins.”
Caption: The right to belong at school means being given the opportunity to go to school camps with classmates and to join in all the activities schools offer.