Draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan released

  • Hon Tracey Martin

Children and young people who need extra support are at the heart of a new draft Action Plan released today by Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin.

“We know that for too long, too many children have been missing out on the support that they need to participate and achieve in education,” the Minister said. “Once finalised, the Disability and Learning Support Action Plan will provide a clear structure and path for delivering this help.

“The goal is that we have an inclusive education system where children and young people with additional learning needs, including disabilities, are welcome, and where their achievement, progress, wellbeing and participation is valued and supported.”

The draft plan covers four priority areas:

  • improving the way children and young people are assessed for additional learning needs
  • strengthening the range of supports for children and young people with disabilities and additional learning needs
  • improving the way the education system responds to neurodiverse learners and gifted learners
  • ensuring that learning support is resourced for increased support and delivery.

Specific proposals include developing screening tools to help identify learning needs when children start school and the creation of two new roles in the system, including a ‘Learning support co-ordinator’ within schools.

The draft Action Plan was developed with input from a range of sources, including the 2015 Learning Support Update, and the Select Committee Inquiry into Identification and Support for students with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“The Ministry has also been trialling different forms of learning support delivery, and they and I have been receiving ongoing feedback from parents, whānau, young people and the disability and education sectors,” Minister Martin says.

“This draft plan is designed to improve the way these services are delivered and will benefit those children and young people who are already supported as well as those who currently miss out.

“We want to ensure every child with learning challenges has access to the tools and professionals they need,” Minister Martin says.

The Action Plan follows and builds on the Budget investment of $272.8 million more over four years for operational spending on learning support.

The final plan will be phased in over several years.  New actions will need decisions on funding before being implemented.”

Consultation on the draft Action Plan will begin next week and run until 31 October.

The Minister said it was important to hear from young people, parents, whānau, educators, sector organisations and disability groups about the priorities and actions outlined in the draft plan.