NEXT PHASE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION 2000 FINALISED

  • Wyatt Creech
Education

Students with special education needs will receive substantially more funding for their schooling next year following the approval of the next phase of the Government's special education policy, Special Education 2000.

Education Minister Wyatt Creech confirmed today that Phase Two: Special Education 2000 would go ahead after the success of the trial run of the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme process, which identified school students with ongoing, high special education needs.

"The trial run of the process was extremely successful. We are confident, and this is backed up by independent research, that we have a process of allocating resources to students which will work in the long term," said Mr Creech.

While the 1997 Budget set aside a contingency pool of an additional $150-$200 million over three years to pay for Phase Two: Special Education 2000, the announcements today commit the first allocation of $134 million over three years. Further decisions and funding announcements are pending following the collection of further information.

"The Coalition Government is determined to get what is a very complex policy area right. As we pilot new mechanisms next year to phase in the policy, we will collect the necessary extra information to make sure that the needs of individual students are addressed appropriately. We want a balance between providing resourcing for individual students with high needs and providing funding directly to schools to manage students with more moderate special education needs.

"The extra funding will move to give students with high and very high ongoing needs the support they need for their education.

"The new resources will also pay to help teachers and schools with students who have severe behaviour problems," Mr Creech said.

"In 1998 prototypes to test different ways to deliver programmes for students with severe behaviour difficulties will be set up. This is expected to precede national implementation during 1999 and 2000.

"The behaviour initiative has two elements - providing resource teachers to support schools in their work with those students who have behaviour problems and intensive in-school and off-site programmes for students with severe behaviour difficulties.

"It is vital that schools and parents are able to take responsibility for the needs of these students. We want schools to be able to manage students with learning and behaviour difficulties in the classroom; to manage crisis situations relating to individual students and to reduce the incidence of inappropriate behaviour so that students will achieve in the long-term."

Mr Creech said behaviour problems were not ones that education alone could solve. The new behaviour programmes provided schools and communities with a major opportunity to co-ordinate the different groups working with schools and families who have students with behaviour difficulties.

"Schools not involved in the prototypes will receive extra transitional funding in 1998 to help them with students with severe behaviour problems while permanent mechanisms are developed."

The Special Education Grant, targeted for students with moderate special education needs paid to schools from the start of the 1997 school year, will more than double from $13 million to $29 million in 1998.

"We have put a lot more money into the Special Education Grant. This allows schools to respond to the needs of their own students, and be more flexible in developing innovative programmes to enhance learning opportunities."

The new funding will also provide for speech language therapy for students with very high needs and will provide some funding for guidance and support for teachers working with students with more moderate speech language needs.

There will be a separate pilot in the Nelson area of two clusters of schools using a different approach. Here the schools will manage the funding for their own students and provision of services.

Details about resourcing for children with special education needs in the early childhood sector are expected to be announced by the end of the year.

The Ministry of Education will be working with schools, early childhood education services, parents and specialists to implement the scheme. Its success would be monitored and evaluated through independent research.

The implementation of Special Education 2000 policy is supported by significant information, training and professional development for boards of trustees, principals, teachers and parents.

"Over the next week schools and parents will receive details of how the additional funding will be allocated for next year," Mr Creech said. "We are working hard to make sure the policy works and really delivers for schools and students."

For further information please contact:
Anna Hughes (04) 4719 819
or Sally Jackson
Project Manager -Ministry of Education
Telephone: (04) 471 6184.

Attached background information to be sent to schools

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Special Education 2000
Phase Two
Further Announcements

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Special Education 2000 was first announced in last year's Budget to help provide resourcing for students who have special education needs. The aim of the policy is to develop a fair system to ensure appropriate students receive support wherever they may be and according to their level of need. Its scope and complexity means it needs to be implemented gradually over three years.

Phase 1 was introduced at the beginning of this year with the first instalment of the Special Education Grant. A total of $55 million was allocated over three years for students with moderate learning and/or behaviour related special education needs.

Phase 2 was announced in this year's Budget and concentrates mainly on students with high special education needs. It also contains a review of the Special Education Grant. Over the past three months the Ministry of Education has been gathering information to determine which students fit into the ongoing high and very high needs groups. In addition there are components for students with severe behaviour difficulties and for students with speech-language difficulties.

The implementation of Special Education 2000 is going to be challenging. We want to ensure that there is no disruption to children with special education needs. The Government has decided to implement the scheme as allocation decisions are made. This is a change to the original proposal. It will enable officials to collect further information and ensure that resources are allocated as effectively as possible. The funding set aside in the 1997 Budget remains intact.

Special Education 2000 has five components:

Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)
This scheme will provide ongoing guaranteed resources for students with high and very high special education needs which are expected to continue throughout their school years. This is for students with intellectual, physical and sensory special needs. It is being introduced at the beginning of the 1998 school year. New funding of $17 million will be provided to support these students in 1998. There are two ways these funds can be managed.

A school or cluster of schools which has 20 or more students, can apply to be accredited to hold the funds and purchase the services for those students. Where a school or cluster has fewer than 20 students, they can opt to fundhold for those students provided they gain the approval of the Ministry to undertake that task. In all other cases Specialist Education Services (SES) will act as fundholder.

Applications for the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme are made through teachers and parents submitting an application to an independent panel of verifiers that defines whether individual students are eligible for the scheme.

For 1998, there will be no change to specialist support, therapy or specialist teachers. The only change will be in teacher aide hours. These will be allocated on a formula base to either the Specialist Education Services or the school that holds the funds. The school, parent and fundholder working together through the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process will determine how the funding will be used.

The aims of this scheme are to provide:

Guaranteed and predictable resourcing for students with ongoing high and very high needs
A national framework for ensuring that eligible students throughout New Zealand across different settings receive similar resourcing
Better learning outcomes.

Severe Behaviour Difficulties
A prototype programme for students with severe behaviour difficulties will be established in the Waikato in 1998. Other prototypes trying different mechanisms in different areas will be commenced as they are developed. The Waikato prototype includes:

Resource Teachers: Behaviour and Learning, to provide in-class and in-school support for teachers of students with behaviour difficulties and/or learning difficulties
Behaviour Specialist Support Services that will provide intensive in-school and off-site programmes for students with severe behaviour difficulties.
In 1998 new funds will be allocated for establishing the prototype programmes that test the new mechanisms. The funding will include providing training for Resource Teachers: Behaviour and Learning, and Behaviour Specialist Support Service staff. Similar levels of funding will be allocated for Resource Teacher training in other regions.

This initiative will help schools:

Work with students with learning and behaviour difficulties in the classroom
Involve parents/caregivers in managing students with behaviour difficulties
Manage crisis situations relating to individual students
Significantly reduce the inappropriate behaviour of the targeted students and enable them to achieve sound learning outcomes in the long-term
Co-ordinate support across non-education government and non-government agencies
Develop strategies to reduce the number of students with severe behaviour difficulties.
Students not eligible for the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme but who have severe behaviour difficulties will benefit from transition funding for the 1998 school year. This funding will reduce in subsequent years as the behaviour initiative is implemented in areas outside the prototype regions. For those schools outside the prototypes, there will be a discretionary pool of funding for students with behaviour difficulties.

Speech-Language Difficulties
An additional $3.48 million will be provided to assist students with speech-language difficulties, especially those in the early school years where this assistance is likely to have the greatest benefit. This initiative will enable students to communicate more effectively and improve their literacy and numeracy skills. The new funding will be used to: provide an increase in speech-language therapy on average per student; professional development for teachers and support and guidance for students with moderate speech-language difficulties.

Special Education Grant
In 1997 schools received $13 million to help students with moderate special education needs in areas such as learning and behaviour.

This grant has been increased to $29 million for the 1998 school year. Additional transitional funding will also be provided to relevant schools as the current Special Education Discretionary Assistance (SEDA) is replaced by Special Education 2000 initiatives.

The Special Education Grant will be allocated for 1998 according to the following table.

Special Education Grant (SEG) Funding Rates Decile Ranking $ Per Student Funding Rate
1 51
2 48
3 45
4 42
5 39
6 36
7 33
8 30
9 27
10 24

Early Childhood
The Government plans to increase the current level of funding for children with special education needs in the early childhood sector. This will enable these students to receive co-ordinated specialist teaching, other specialist services including speech-language therapy, and paraprofessional support. Further details are expected to be announced before the end of 1997.

This programme is to enable:

Improved access to early childhood services for children with special education needs
A variety of programmes to provide parents with choice
A solid foundation for learning during the school years, providing greater long-term benefits.

Professional Development and Training
Special Education 2000 is about the Government, the Ministry of Education, school boards of trustees, principals, teachers and parents working together to meet students' special education needs. Professional development and training will be provided to boards of trustees, principals and teachers in schools along with supporting information, particularly for parents. Professional development is critical because it will enable schools to take greater responsibility for all their students with special education needs.

Accountability, Monitoring and Evaluation
Special Education 2000 is a very large, complex education programme and the Government is committed to ensuring its success. Clear accountability, monitoring and evaluation will be achieved through:

Evaluation reports from the Education Review Office
Accountability procedures with Specialist Education Services and alternative fundholders
Independent research of the implementation of Special Education 2000.

Equipment
An additional $325,000 has been allocated for providing students with equipment where it is needed to improve learning opportunities. This is to cater for:

Increasing numbers of students who require access to special equipment
Increasing costs of more technologically advanced and specialist equipment for students with disabilities
The need to provide for training on the use of equipment.
Stage 1 May to July 1997 Stage 2 November 1997 Stage 3 January 1998
Trial run of process for the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme

Information meetings on Phase 2

Budget announcement of funding Announcement of the results of the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme trial

Decisions about initiatives for assisting young children and students with special education needs for 1998 Start of Implementation

Ongoing information gathering

Monitoring and evaluation

For further information please contact:

Special Education 2000 Information Line:
0800 622 222 (during office hours)

Ministry of Education Management Centres
In Auckland, Hamilton, Wanganui, Lower Hutt, Christchurch and Dunedin