New Plan and funding to strengthen learning support

  • Hon Tracey Martin

A new Action Plan to improve the support for children and young people with learning needs was announced today by Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin.

“New Zealanders want a fair education system that meets the needs of all students, so they can develop their full potential and engage fully in society,” the Minister says.

“One in five children, around 200,000, need some kind of extra support for their learning. This is part of the natural variability among children and young people in every learning environment. 

“Feedback from across the education and disability sectors, as well as from parents and whānau and students themselves, has been very clear that we need to do a better job of helping these young people and meeting their diverse needs.”

Minister Martin said the Government was improving the system of support for students and increasing its funding – with the Budget including an extra $29.6m to respond to growth in demand.

The Learning Support Action Plan 2019-25 is focussed on six strategic priorities that will make the greatest difference over the next few years:

  • introducing the first tranche of Learning Support Coordinators in schools and kura
  • developing new screening tools to help the early identification of learning support needs
  • strengthening early intervention for pre-schoolers
  • creating a flexible set of services and supports for neurodiverse children and young people
  • better meeting the learning needs of gifted children and young people
  • improving education for children and young people at risk of disengaging.

The Action Plan reflects the findings of the Select Committee Inquiry to improve identification and support for children and young people with dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism spectrum disorders. It also reflects the feedback and submissions received as part of the Kōrero Mātauranga Education Conversation, and from consultation on the draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan.  It builds on the new approach to providing learning support that is being implemented following significant consultation.

“This Government is strongly committed to improving learning support for New Zealand children and young people, and their parents and whānau,” Mrs Martin says.

“Our first two Budgets combined have provided new funding for learning support of $619.7 million.

“Budget 2018 increased funding for learning support by $283.8 million over four years.  Budget 2019 provides further increases for learning support of $335.8 million over four years. This includes additional funding of $29.6 million to respond to population and demand growth, as well as funding for the new Learning Support Coordinators who will start work from January 2020 and who will play a key role in providing more help for students, their families and teachers.

“This additional funding is about ensuring we can provide the learning support that our children need. The Action Plan is about changing the way we deliver that support. It addresses the challenges we have seen for our students over the last decade in accessing that support in a timely fashion.”

The Minister said that the Action Plan will continue to be reviewed and revised, so it delivers the best possible outcomes for children and young people with learning support needs and that the

Ministry of Education will continue to work closely with parents and whānau, educators, the disability sector and other relevant organisations as it is implemented. 

“Better outcomes for all children and young people, particularly those who are disabled or have learning support needs, are an important part of the Government’s wider work programme.  As this wider work continues over time, I am confident we will see progress towards an education system with a range of learning environments where disabled children and those with learning support needs are welcome and where their achievement, progress, wellbeing and participation is valued and supported.”

Read the Learning Support Action Plan here: