I urge all educators and all parents of children with special education needs to please write to the select committee with your thoughts on what does and doesn’t work and what you would like to see change.
Your voices matter. They are needed.
Submission can be made online here – click through and then scroll to the bottom of the page.
The select committee’s specific remit is:
“Inquiry into the identification and support for students with the significant challenges of dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism spectrum disorders in primary and secondary schools”, but I urge you to discuss whatever special educational need matters to you. It’s your chance to be heard.
This is my submission, but yours will speak to what matters to you. There is no right or wrong format – just speak from the heart.
My submission to the Select Committee
The issues I would like select committee to look into are:
– that specialist SEN help ends at age 8, which is not supported by evidence of need. There should be a continuation of help from SEN specialist such as speech therapists where it is needed.
– that specialist help is given based on a points system that gives fewer points to children under age 5, meaning early intervention is less likely. Again, this is counter to what specialists say is needed, and is not best practice.
– the Special Education Specialists such as SLTs can work directly with students and not just with teachers. Their training makes them the best people to work directly with students. It is not enough to have a system where they are made to tell a non-specialist what to do and hope they get it right. Non-specialists, with the best will in the world, cannot do what a trained specialist can do.
– that the staffing cap on Special Education Specialists is preventing children getting the help they need and must be reconsidered.
– that the process for appointing new Special Education Specialists is cumbersome and leads to gaps in provision and needs to be simplified and speeded up.
– that requests for provision should not cancel between sectors. For example, a child under 5 on Ministry wait lists for help has the request cancelled when they start school and the family must reapply. Worse still, parents do not always know this and spend months waiting for an appointment that will never come.
– that SEN provision ends at the close of each school year and must be reapplied for at the start of the next school year, causing delays in service and unnecessary admin and paperwork for all concerned.
– that teachers and support staff have more and better access to quality SEN professional training. We *want* to up-skill and do the best we can. We need support in this. (This training should also be available to relief teachers, who have little to no access to PLD despite dealing with many needs in any given week).
– that teacher aid support is not withdrawn simply because a student has made improvement if it can be shown that improvement will clearly be lost once support is withdrawn. This is commonplace and leads to distress for students and parents as well as increased admin, meetings and paperwork for staff in order to reapply for help.
– that processes for getting help are made very clear for parents (and teachers) so that we know who to contact and what we must do. Currently we are passed pillar to post and it is very stressful.
– that consideration is made to establishing proper help for children with emotional needs (anger, depression, etc). At present there is a gap, and yet the need is there.