It was a very sad day, today, for students with high level special needs in New Zealand.
Both McKenzie School in Christchurch and Salisbury School in Nelson are to be closed, leaving just two residential special schools for the whole of New Zealand.
Salisbury School is the only residential school in Australasia successfully providing for girls with complex learning difficulties; girls whose educational, social and emotional needs have not been met in mainstream schooling. They are proud to share that they “are an award winning school that is integrated into our community, ensuring our students are able to reach their potential as they move back home and to their local school.”
Salisbury School announced the news
“Today, the Ministry for Education informed us that they have recommended closure of Salisbury School. They propose two residential options, both of which will be co-educational environments. We intend to oppose the decision to close Salisbury, as we know that co-education is often not an option for our students. We have 28 days to show the Ministry why we should not be closed. Thank you so much for all your support.”
The Ministry of Education is seeking feedback on its plan to close down Auckland’s Westbridge School, Salisbury School in Nelson, and Halswell and McKenzie Schools in Christchurch. Details of the review can be found here.
ICH support inclusive education. However, even they have concerns about the new set-up, saying that “While there is strong commitment by IHC Advocacy for quality local inclusive education for all disabled children, there is also evidence that many families are not currently being well served by their local schools and communities. In a recent discussion on Radio New Zealand, principals of mainstream schools admit that because of insufficient funds, they are excluding students with special education needs from some activities such as school camps. A key factor for the success for this latest reform will be the quality of new programmes. They need to be better than what is currently available for many disabled students and their mainstream schools.” Read more here.
Board of Trustees
It’s also notable that the two remaining schools are having their boards of trustees closed down in favour of one over-reaching board appointed by the government. So there will be no local or parental voice on the board. Sounds familiar – this is the plan for charter schools too. It seems there is a determined effort to slowly strip down our public education system and remove any say in it from parents. Meanwhile, children suffer at the hands of another money saving venture.
I couldn’t be sadder.