An Action Plan for Education

Published on Tuesday, 03 September 2019
Last updated on Tuesday, 31 December 2019

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An Action Plan to improve support for children and young people with different learning needs has been launched by Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin.

The Action Plan applies to children in early learning environments as well as those in primary and high school.

"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."

The Learning Support Action Plan 2019-25 has six priorities:

  • 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 Minister says the Action Plan has been finalised following consultation with key stakeholders and additional funding has been made available to support the roll out.

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

"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."

According to Stuff around 600 Learning Support Coordinators have been allocated to start in schools in January next year, in line with priority number one out of the six areas. The Minister says the appointees will work in schools "that are the most advanced in working within the new Learning Support Delivery Model."

The move has been welcomed by Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens, which runs 86 kindergartens in the lower North Island and three home-based education networks used mostly by Pasifika and migrant families.

Chief Executive Officer Amanda Coulston says the injection of funding into early learning support is imperative. Currently 11 Whānau Manaaki teachers are undergoing extra training on top of their teaching workloads, to become early intervention specialists.

"We know first-hand the problems children and families face waiting for assistance.

"We are committed to making a difference for all children and we want to work with others to improve the lives and educational outcomes of those who are currently missing out," she said.

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