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Ministry of Education, Special Education

Special Needs Support Sadly Lacking

mazeWhat’s going on in New Zealand? We have the Ministry of Education saying they want to support special educational needs, we have Hekia Parata demanding (quite rightly) that all children are given a fair crack with their learning, we have teachers crying out for support, and we have parents tearing their hair out, being pushed pillar to post and at every turn asked to pay, pay, pay.

Where are the students in all of this?

The system is broken. In fact, calling it a system is being generous – it’s more of a series of disparate services that each tell you they can’t help.

You have a child with behavioural or emotional problems? Tough.  If you’re lucky you’ll be offered a leaflet for a parenting course… or should I say another parenting course. Because the first thing you have to remember when your child has issues is that it’s automatically deemed to be your fault.

Heaven forbid anyone with an ounce of training in child psychology, mental health, spectrum disorders, behavioural issues, or anything useful gets to observe and evaluate your child. If you want a diagnosis, you’re going to have to get battle ready and prepare to fight.

You will also need to prepare to open you wallet. Often. And widely.

All too often I hear of parents asking school for support – school refer the parent to their doctor or child mental health services – they pass the buck back to school – school then tries the next agency – the buck is passed again. Often the school is trying so hard to help, but they are hitting brick walls all the way, just like the parents.

And meanwhile, that child is still waiting for support.

At some point, parents are advised to go private and get help. There are two problems here.

  • First of all, who has $120 an hour spare for a series of sessions? Not everyone by any means, and help shouldn’t depend on whether the child has well off parents or not.  It should be available to all students.
  • Secondly, finding the right help is a mine field,  If you don’t know what the issues are and are searching for a diagnosis, you will often see a raft of people who are not qualified to do that properly. So you try another specialist, and another, and all the time you are paying for this non-help.

Some time ago, Peter Hughes, head of the Ministry of Education, said “When things aren’t working [the Ministry of Education] will own that and work with everyone involved to find solutions.” Well things aren’t working, Peter, truly they aren’t.  So what is being done?

As I said in July, you have a complete overhaul to do, after years of neglect of special needs provision that is to the detriment of all of our students and is a disgrace.

Caring parents and teachers are doing all they can. But we need a good system that supports us to do our part well. And our children deserve nothing less.

~ Dianne

Also read:
Peter Hughes thinks Ministry has work to do on Special Needs provision, does he?

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2 thoughts on “Special Needs Support Sadly Lacking

  1. If Hekia Parata is demanding all children are given a fair crack then she needs to change policy and provide the funding that will ensure that, because the bar to meet criteria to get 1:1 is far far too high to currently ensure that. It should not be based on where they are academically, as academically-able children with say an ASD dx struggle to get through mainstream equitably. The bar for ORS is too high, especially when ORS does not even qualify a child to full time 1:1 help. What happens to the children who do not qualify for ORS? They are in no mans land and the school is expected to cope, but it does not, ever in a fully equitable way. Because the very nature of the school structure raises anxiety in ASD children, it can lead to behaviour they can not help, the school policies are set up for dealing with this behaviour in an NT way so the ASD child is disadvantaged; the school feel they don’t have an option but to do this, they do not have the resources to cope with a child with issues but doesn’t qualify for ORS. A child with a dx in need of 1:1 help to navigate the school environment but does not receive this help is affected and not just them, but their class peers, and their teacher too. A child can qualify for CDA, the family for carer support hours, be deemed to be affected significantly from his developmental issue but yet not have any ongoing help guaranteed by the educational system. So that’s the MSD and MoH recognising a child in need of assistance, and yet not the MoE?? The answer is simple Hekia, change the flawed, unjust, inequitable system to make an equitable education happen for all. If she’s not going to do this, then change legislation and make it the parent’s responsibility to educate their child (as in the UK) as I should not have to ask the state for permission to home educate the child they are failing to equitably cater for.


    Posted by Mama of 2 | December 17, 2014, 9:58 pm
  2. I totally agree 100 % ! I can’t say this enough , finding a solution for both my sons over a long period has taken everything out of me as a parent . I am not wealthy so private provision was not a option , taking on a neglectful system was and still is as I think about all the other children , families and schools requiring support . Speaking to the Minister’s office both by e-mail and phone calls , e-mails to David Wales and to the SE Auckland office should not be initiated by a parent . It is also wrong I had to force MOE hands by threatening media action to have the ORS written in the first place . We can’t just throw our hands up and agree it is wrong we must look for solutions and place our energies into doing something about it . Ministry , set up forums and listen to parents , listen to schools that would be a great start . But may I add only a start . Action , change a policy that has not been reviewed and I dont include the 2010 tinkering for decades . The Minister sets up other working groups , in this case include parents that will have far greater knowledge than someone working in a Wellington office .


    Posted by Zac Markham | December 18, 2014, 12:07 am

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