Long overdue boost for learning support

  • Hon Chris Hipkins
  • Hon Tracey Martin

The Coalition Government is providing an overdue boost for learning support in Budget 2018 to help young people reach their potential, say Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin.

“We know that learning support funding has been inadequate for more than a decade. Our investment of $272.8 million more than triples the operational spending in the previous Budget. This goes a long way towards addressing funding and demand pressures,” says Chris Hipkins.

The new spending includes $249.3 million over four years across five learning support initiatives, plus $23.5 million for higher student numbers.

“This Government has a plan to rebuild the foundations of our critical public services to ensure they serve New Zealanders’ needs now and sustainably in the future. Our plan puts young people and their needs at the centre of the system, and will correct the glaring inequities in education,” says Tracey Martin.

“We are prioritising new spending to remove barriers to young people’s access to education and learning, which were shamefully ignored over the last nine years.

“The Coalition Government is progressing its plan to ensure every child with learning challenges has access to the tools and professionals they need.

“For too long these students have been poorly served by an underfunded system. Our targeted investments, along with our work to streamline the support system, will reduce friction and lead to better student wellbeing,” says Tracey Martin.

Over the next four years, Budget 2018 provides operating funding for the following learning support initiatives:

  • The ongoing resourcing scheme (ORS) receives an extra $133.5 million for about 1,000 additional students from next year. ORS provides vital support (such as speech language therapists, psychologists, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, additional teacher time and teacher-aide support) for school students with the highest and most complex learning needs.
  • Sensory schools and New Zealand Sign Language receive an extra $30.2 million to support about 2,900 deaf and hard-of-hearing students and approximately 1,500 low-vision students. 
  • Teacher-aide funding receives an extra $59.3 million. 
  • Te Kahu Tōī intensive wraparound service receives an extra $4.8 million to reach an extra 30 eligible students each year, increasing delivery to 365 students from July 2018.
  • Early Intervention Services receives a $21.5 million operating boost, plus $272,000 capital, to recruit additional early intervention staff. As a result, about an additional 1,900 early childhood education children with high needs will receive support each year. (This initiative was announced before Budget Day.)