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Slash and burn of special education support

Slashing the support for school age children with special needs is no way to fund earlier intervention, Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. 

“National’s latest plan to slash funding for children with special needs over the age of 7 in order to fund greater support for younger children is short-sighted and stupid.

 “I absolutely agree that the government can do a much better job of identifying and supporting children with additional learning needs earlier, but depriving older kids of the support they so desperately need is no way to accomplish that. 

“It is frightening that Cabinet accepts that the demand for these services exceeds the resources available and yet it’s proposing more cuts. 

“Hekia Parata’s latest proposal will see access to the Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS) cut, other behaviour services pooled and the funding of special needs services for some primary and secondary students reduced. 

“Her talking points also foreshadow more cuts to front line staff at the Ministry of Education. These are the people that work directly with the kids most in need. 

“These cuts will put even more strain on our already underfunded education system. This is at the same time as National is talking about reintroducing bulk funding, which will inevitably mean bigger class sizes. 

“I’m not surprised that Hekia Parata tried to quietly slip these changes out late on Friday afternoon. They’re not even on the Beehive website. 

“Re-carving the same size pie amongst a growing number of needy kids will simply result in more going hungry. It’s time the National government woke up to the damage their underfunding is doing to kids’ lives and futures,” Chris Hipkins says.