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(New Zealand) SPED funding "slowly decreasing"/"need is growing"; 'broken system'

Dec 3, 2022, Stuff: 'It's a broken system': More than a third of disabled children funding applications denied

Jack* bounced through three schools in his first year out of kindy – each classroom environment more unwelcoming than the next.

The six-year-old boy has autism, and without enough classroom support he began struggling with anxiety and severe meltdowns.

“Even though he had the funding for teacher aide support, [the school] wouldn’t let him stay there the whole day,” said Meena Nassery, Jack’s mum….

Jack is one of the 1079 disabled children who received Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding last year, which allowed him to enrol in a special school.

“I’m so thankful for that school. He’s really enjoying it and the people are actually trained to support his needs. He wouldn’t be able to be there without ORS,” Nassery said. Not everyone is so lucky.

The number of students accepted for ORS funding has been slowly decreasing over the last four years, despite educators saying the need is growing.

Auckland learning support teacher Rebecca Stevens called it “a broken system”.

“There are more kids with higher needs but less funding – there’s just not enough support,” she said.

More than a third of students who apply for ORS funding are rejected each year, according to data obtained by Stuff under the Official Information Act.

Stevens pointed out that the figures didn’t show the whole picture; many children needed funding but never applied.

“You would only apply if you thought the child really, really needs it,” she said….

Autism New Zealand manager Dane Dougan said access to ORS funding made a massive difference in the lives of young autistic students.

“Autistic students are three times more likely to be suspended. But if they get ORS funding, they are no more likely to get suspended than any other student.”

Without that support, autistic students were often labelled as ‘problem children’ and pushed out of school, he said....

Ministry of Education spokesperson Sean Teddy said that the Highest Needs Review Change Programme would look to improve funding for disabled students. ...

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