A single point of access will be piloted to schools and families who need to access learning support for their children, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced today.
Ms Parata made the announcement at the Special Education Principals Association New Zealand conference in Wellington, as part of a progress update on the Learning Support (formerly Special Education) Update.
“We will pilot a new service delivery model in the Waiariki/Bay of Plenty region that will provide for a single point of access to liaise with families and schools, through an 0800 number, email or online tool, and help them get the support they need promptly,” says Ms Parata.
“Too many families are finding the current system of learning support too complicated and we want to make it easier for them and their schools to access the support they need, when they need it.”
Other key features of the new service delivery model are:
- Local learning support teams to triage and integrate flexible, tailored and dedicated solutions for students
- Learning support plans detailing actions, resources and goals using a collaborative process. Plans will evolve and move with the child
- A Lead Practitioner to ensure learning support plans are delivered, monitored and reviewed as needed
- The collection of individual student data related to learning support and achievement to ensure a child-centred view of effectiveness.
“Support will be delivered through a mix of public, private and non-government organisation providers within the current funding. All students currently receiving support will continue to receive support based on their assessed needs. All new applications for learning support for students in the Waiariki/Bay of Plenty region will be part of the pilot,” says Ms Parata.
“The Ministry of Education will work with the sector and stakeholders to develop the changes and pilot the new approach in the Waiariki/Bay of Plenty region from the start of the 2017 school year. The focus of the pilot is to test, measure and evaluate the changes to inform national implementation decisions later on in 2017."
NZEI President Louise Green said that the new service model would be welcomed, as teachers and parents had long been asking for a single contact point. However, she expressed some concerns around funding levels.
“The concern is that there is still no more funding, even though the ministry acknowledges that the number of children needing learning support is growing, and principals are reporting that the significant needs of children in their schools are not being met,” she said.
Green also was worried about the move to privatise parts of the service.
"Fewer children will be assisted if funding is going via private operators. We don’t want to see any privatisation of this essential public service for our children,” she said.