Minister reassuring on special needs

Associate Education Minister Heather Roy (right) meets Forbury School pupil Terry Kennedy (10),...
Associate Education Minister Heather Roy (right) meets Forbury School pupil Terry Kennedy (10), who has special needs (second from right), classmate Hezekiah Parker (8) and principal Janice Tofia at the school yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Parents and teachers have nothing to fear from a planned review of special education, and it is not a cost-cutting exercise, Associate Education Minister Heather Roy says.

Mrs Roy, who has ministerial responsibility for children with special needs, visited several Dunedin schools yesterday.

Overall funding for special needs education was increased in the Budget, with $51 million extra being provided for the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme (ORRS) between this month and mid-2012, Mrs Roy noted recently.

The Government provided about $450 million a year for special needs education and the review would consider whether the money was being well spent and "to make sure that the children who need the funding are able to access it", she said in an interview.

Asked about criticism of some recently announced changes in special needs education, she said some funding for conductive education programmes was being ended this year, on equity grounds.

Nevertheless, overall national funding for special needs education had been increased, she said.

Mrs Roy, an Act New Zealand list MP who is also the Associate Minister of Defence, yesterday morning visited Forbury School, the Sara Cohen School and Bayfield High School, before visiting the Kensington Army Hall and other Defence facilities.

She said the Cabinet had yet to approve the review's terms of reference, but she hoped funding-related matters would be reviewed by the end of the year.

Forbury School principal Janice Tofia said it was encouraging Mrs Roy was making an effort to meet school pupils and teachers before undertaking the review.

The review would be a positive step if it meant better delivery of services to children, Mrs Tofia said.

Five Forbury pupils were receiving ORRS support, another child was being helped with High Health Needs funding, and five pupils with challenging behaviour were receiving special needs support, she said.




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