Launch of 'Collaboration for Success: Individual Education Plans'

  • Rodney Hide

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Thank you Tom [Parsons, Principal, Queen Charlotte College] for your warm welcome.  It’s great to be here today.

We are here to launch revised guidelines for individual education planning – called ‘Collaboration for Success: Individual Education Plans’.

We are doing this at Queen Charlotte College because you are a fantastic example of what being an inclusive school is all about.

Your mission states that ‘we must make the most of every opportunity given to us’.  And you do. I’m told you support every student to learn and to achieve. You work together – teachers, students, parents, families, and your community.

Working together is what we are celebrating today. We know – and the research is clear – that students with special education needs – in fact all students – make progress when those who know them best plan and work together.

The individual education planning process is one such opportunity.

This resource is for everyone who plans or uses individual teaching and learning programmes for students with special education needs.

It’s important that we get Individual Education Plans (IEPs) right.  It’s about including students in the school curricula rather than excluding them. 

I congratulate everyone involved in developing these revised guidelines.

In particular, I thank the members of the sector advisory group and the writing group for your commitment and hard work.  Your contribution has been invaluable.

Tom, your input as the secondary schools’ representative has been highly valued.  You have shared plenty of examples of how your school is putting the guidelines’ principles into practice.

The existing guidelines have been in place since 1998.  While a lot about them is still relevant, there have been a whole host of changes in the education and disability sectors over the last decade.

Government introduced the New Zealand Disability Strategy, along with a new curriculum for schools and for kura.  New Zealand ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Last year I launched Success for All – Every School, Every Child, an action plan that sets out the changes we are making to make sure every child gets a fair go.  This will lead to more regular schools – schools like yours – doing more for students with special education needs.

So it was time to refresh the guidelines.

A literature review undertaken last year highlighted some concerns about individual education planning that needed immediate attention.

It found that many IEPs are unwieldy and unhelpful.  Often parents, families and students are only slightly involved in the IEP process.

However, it also showed some examples of good practice, which have helped to shape the new guidelines.

I want to acknowledge the work of Professor David Mitchell, Dr Missy Morton and Dr Garry Hornby from the University of Canterbury who carried out the review.

I believe ‘Collaboration for Success’ will make a real difference for students, families and teachers.

It takes a firm stand on partnerships – the need for everyone who knows the student well to work together. It affirms the crucial roles of students, parents and families. The guidelines remind us that every student is an active and capable learner.

Now, more than ever before, we’re listening to students. We expect students to have a say in setting their learning goals. We encourage them to assess their own work; recognise when they are successful; and pin-point where they need help.

Here at Queen Charlotte College, you show every day how teachers are at the heart of inclusive schools. They lead the learning in their classrooms.

‘Collaboration for Success’ will free up valuable teaching time as it results in fewer, more focused and more manageable IEPs.

The revised guidelines encourage teachers to use the assessment, planning, monitoring and reporting approaches they already have in place.

There is no reason for schools to have a separate curriculum for their students with special education needs.

Overall teacher judgement will shape assessment and inform the next steps in teaching and learning for students with special education needs, as they do for all students.

I’m also delighted to launch IEP Online, which complements the new guidelines.  It is accessible to people with a range of abilities and disabilities.  You will find it on the Ministry of Education’s TKI website.

We’ve started to put up resources that families and educators have contributed to.  This will continue to grow.

I join the project team in encouraging you to share your tools, tips and templates so others can take them and make them their own.

Again I congratulate the project team, sector advisory group and Ministry of Education on developing these wonderful resources.

I want every young person to feel welcome in their chosen schools, to have friends, to belong.  I know it can be done as there are schools out there already doing it.  Schools like Queen Charlotte College.

‘Collaboration for Success’ is another step towards making sure schools get the support and information they need to do this. I reckon we will be well on our way to every young New Zealander succeeding at school and in life.

I would now like to present a copy of ‘Collaboration for Success: Individual Education Plans’ to each member of the sector advisory group.

Thank you.