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(NEW ZEALAND) 'VERY CONCERNING' the growing number of SPED students

Nov 24, 2019, Daily Stock Dish: School disability services fall short of rising Demand The number of children with disabilities waiting for support from the Education Ministry has increased even though the ministry is helping more children than ever. The ministry worked with more children with special needs in the year to June but the number on waiting lists also grew. The ministry worked with 36,476 children with special needs in the 12 months to the end of June, 4 percent – or 1353 – more than in the previous 12 months. However, the number of children on waiting lists during that time also grew by 107 to 4237, and the average waiting time remained unchanged at 80 days. Wellington had the longest average wait times including 170 days for early intervention, 118 days for communication services and 75 days for behaviour services. Wellington Regional Primary Principals Association president Mike Farrelly said more funding had gone into special education, but it was taking time for the ministry to hire the right staff and in the meantime schools had to pay for support from their own operating budgets. “You have got your most vulnerable children sitting on waiting lists and that‘s a problem. So your children who have significant learning needs, mental health issues, severe behaviour, are the ones that you‘re putting your time, energy and effort into to try and support and those resources just aren‘t forthcoming and that‘s putting a strain on the system as a whole,” he said. Mr Farrelly said schools were seeing more children receiving support but it was not keeping up with demand…. …the number of children on waiting lists should have reduced by now. “We would have expected or wanted for those numbers to be reduced. We would have wanted the waiting lists to be halved, if not quartered, if not done away with altogether so it is problematic that we have more children with unmet needs, more children on waiting lists.” Autism New Zealand chief executive Dane Dougan said it was great more children were getting help, but he was worried that the number of children on waiting lists had not reduced. “The fact the waiting lists haven‘t changed and have in fact grown is very concerning,” he said….


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