News Archive

IEAG Support EFA Auckland Rally

Government must invest more to give children with disabilities a fair go at school
The Inclusive Education Group (IEAG) is giving full support to the rally/picnic to be held at midday this Saturday at the rotunda in the Auckland domain.
The rally has been organised by Education for All - a collaboration of families, disabled people and educators - to demonstrate their opposition to the recent government announcements about special education.
IEAG spokesperson Antonia Hannah says that IEAG is firm in its view that the Update announcements fall far short of providing what disabled children and schools need to deliver and receive a quality inclusive education.
“The difficulties for children with disabilities and schools have been going on for far too long. IEAG was hopeful that the recent government update on special education would respond decisively to those difficulties which have been well communicated to the Ministry on numerous occasions. We feel let down that the concerns and suggestions expressed by families and educators have been ignored. As such we are left feeling that there is no real commitment by government to invest in inclusive education and stand up for the rights of disabled children in education,” says Antonia.
The Education for All Auckland rally follows hot on the heels of a rally held at Parliament in late September attended by hundreds of families, school personnel and children’s rights organisations.
There is a groundswell of concern that the Update announcements have not gone far enough and will result in disabled children missing out and schools not having what they need in the way of human and financial resources to do their best by them.
“We want the government to take notice of what families, disabled people and schools are saying and we want input into the changes so desperately needed,” says Antonia.
Media comment
Antonia Hannah – 021 202 1983
Giovanni Tiso – 021 079 1183

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Seclusion in Schools

IEAG welcomes the external inquiry into seclusion in schools launched today by the office of the Ombudsman and supports the media statements released by IHC and the Greens.

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Sign The Education For All Petition NOW!

Get involved and have your voice heard!  Click on the link above and sign the petition today

We ask that this Government makes a full commitment to disabled people and inclusive education by:
1. Meeting New Zealand’s international human rights obligations and our own legislative requirements to provide every disabled person with an inclusive education.
2. Putting an end to children, families and schools having to compete against one another for funding.
3. Removing the disincentives for schools at all levels (i.e. ECE, primary, secondary and tertiary) to enrol and include students with disabilities by providing proper resources, supports and funding.
4. Adopting a policy of universal design for learning so that everything, from the built environment, curriculum, teaching practices and support services, is accessible for everyone.
5. Working with the disability community, families, educators and service providers to implement a system that works.
We have had countless reviews, consultation and inquiries into ‘special education’ for many years and yet the barriers remain the same:
• Children unable to exercise their right to attend their local schools
• Children being sent home part-way through the day because of lack of learning support
• Children being excluded from accessing the curriculum, as well as participating in sports, recreation and cultural activities.
• Families having to pay for their children’s Teacher Aides and additional learning supports.
• Schools having to fundraise and use operational funding to top up special education funding.
• Extremely limited tertiary and adult education options for disabled people, particularly those with learning disabilities.
• Lack of access to assistive technologies.
• Lack of inclusive education training for graduating teachers.
• Piecemeal access to professional development for teachers, support staff and schools.

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Letter to Minister Hekia Parata

You can check out Education For All's letter to the Minister in our Downloads section under latest downloads.

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Recent Document Uploads

I have uploaded two documents which will be fundamental to the EFA protest and any Select Committee submissions proposing changes to the Education Amendment Act.

IMM interim report June 2016 and Making Disability Rights Real

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NZDSA and NZDSED Survey.

Survey of Personal Responses to the announcement by the Minister of Education, the Hon. Hekia Parata, regarding the Cabinet’s July 2016 decisions to Strengthen inclusion and modernise learning support as well as the Learning Support (previously Special Education) Update

Plesae click on the link below  to complete the survey.

The survey will remain open until Monday 5th September 2016. If possible we would appreciate your feedback by this Wednesday 31 August 2016 so results can be discussed at meetings scheduled for this week. Please can you share with your networks and encourage others to participate.

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University of Otago Conference Announcement

SAVE THE DATE - Disability Studies Conference Announcement Disability Matters:

Making the Convention Real

26 – 29 November 2017 University of Otago Dunedin, New Zealand

Following on from the highly successful 2011 Inaugural Disability Studies Conference, Every Body In, we invite you to our 2017 conference, Every Body In Again: Making the Convention Matter. Conference theme: The conference offers a forum for discussion of disability matters, with a particular focus on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). New Zealanders played a significant role in the development of this Convention – how are we doing now in terms of its implementation? We look forward to sharing a breadth of perspectives, practice, policy and research initiatives regarding the implementation and impact of the UNCRPD in all aspects of people’s lives, across national and international contexts. A conference for every body (not just academics): As with the 2011 conference, we encourage participation by disabled people, familieswh?nau, students, practitioners, policy-makers, researchers, representatives of selfadvocacy, advocacy, service, community organisations and government departments – anyone who is interested in disability matters. A Call for Papers is forthcoming… In the meantime, please save the date and plan to come to Otago in November 2017. Queries? Email [email protected] s Thank you.

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Response to NZ Herald Article "My Autistic Child is Not a Monster"

With reference to a statement issued by the Ministry of Education in recent days regarding a 9 year old child with Autism in Nelson being pressured to attend a Residential Special School 300kms away in Christchurch. The Ministry of Education has described efforts to include this child in various schools in Nelson as ‘exhaustive’. It is IEAG’s view that this description is misleading and that it highlights the need for larger structural and systemic change within the Ministry and within schools more generally. As a lobby group and source of support for many parents, IEAG is only too aware that the case in Nelson is not an isolated incident. So many of the 1% of students categorised as having ‘high needs’, as well as those students due to funding restrictions are unable to qualify as having ‘high needs’, experience similar issues indicating that there is something seriously wrong with the system.

First, we refer to the ‘exhaustive’ input by teacher aides, educational psychologists and behaviour programmes as described by the MOE in the 16th June NZ Herald article “My autistic child is not a monster”. Most teacher aides are untrained and paid the minimum wage. They are not teachers and they are not specialists in teaching children with learning difficulties.  They do not have expert knowledge of behavioural techniques. They are simply expected to sit with the child in the classroom, try to keep them occupied and under ‘control’.  Only when things go (unsurprisingly) wrong may they then be given some advice by a behaviour therapist as provided by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education is often aware of problems well before the behaviour therapist even appears at the school having received phone calls from concerned parents, and sometimes from schools, but the Ministry seems to operate its own system of priority and respond slowly. The quality of input from the educational psychologists is variable; reports, if provided, are largely ‘observational’ and merely touch on strategies. In fact, they often ‘recommend’ that parents and schools ‘collaborate’ to form their own strategies and focus on trying to train the child out of their disability rather than adapting the environment to minimise the stress on the child.

Perhaps by ‘exhaustive efforts’ the Ministry is referring to the efforts they and the schools made in response to an escalated situation. But we ask why was the situation allowed to escalate? Why did the child have to move school in the first place; remember that each subsequent school was new to this child and you have to ask yourself whether each school was truly prepared. What was the effect of moving schools three times in 4 years for the child with Autism on adapting to a new environment? It is our experience that Ministry practise is to deal with issues on a case by case basis as they arise, acting in response to escalated situations and not laying down the foundations for inclusion within NZ schools. We see proactive change to the infrastructure of school life as the key to achieving an inclusive school system; firefighting is simply not working. We demand that schools are required to develop an inclusive ‘consciousness’ which enables every aspect of school life to be considered in terms of those students with diverse learning and behavioural needs.

The Ministry of Education claims that they seek a ‘collaborative’ relationship between schools and parents, inferring that they do not work together. The reality is that students and parents come and go. Schools and the Ministry stay so that the relationship between schools and the Ministry is enduring. Each year dysfunctional systems are further cemented. Unsuspecting parents step into a system they think they can trust but it is a system not designed to protect them or their disabled child. Often parents turn up to Individual Education Plans (meetings held twice a year if you are lucky; a one hour timeslot to determine services, curriculum goals, long term goals and achievements) unprepared and ignorant of what they are supposed to be doing. Often one parent, often Mothers, turn up to the IEP whilst the Ministry is at least three strong in number and the school the same. Six people protecting and preserving their way of doing things in contrast to one parent; the balance of power is immediately skewed and whilst the parent seeks to protect and advocate for their disabled child, the school and Ministry seek to protect and preserve their systems. The Ministry of Education even has its own spokesperson; we wish parents had their own team and their own spokesperson!

Schools themselves do not own the task of inclusion. Specialists and external support are not enough to enable students to  learn and interact with their peers  appropriately. Boards of Trustees generally do not focusing on the inclusion of children with special needs and their progress. ERO’s 2012 Report “Including Students with Special Needs” shows that only 15% of schools reported information to their Boards on the progress and outcomes of their students with special needs.  It is our belief that Boards remain unaware of whether their schools are informed and equipped to understand different learning and behaviour needs. We ask “do Boards in every NZ school ensure the annual dissemination of information on those students with different learning and behaviour profiles?” Not just when a child starts school but every year? Have they discussed what their school could provide to those children with special needs? There has been an emergence of ‘Gifted and Talented’ programmes offered in our state schools, but very few programmes offered to disabled children. Dyslexia is estimated to affect at least 10% of children in NZ but very few dyslexia-specific programmes are offered in NZ schools. The provision of the simplest environmental adjustments - buddy systems, visual timetables, appropriate lesson plans - to more complex adjustments such as the structure of the school day itself, inclusive activities or the provision of retreat spaces is either largely absent or available on an erratic basis across New Zealand schools.

Finally, it is our belief that sending a 9 year old child 300kms away to a residential school in Christchurch is not in the best interests of the child. As a lobby group campaigning for inclusive schools we know that research shows us that segregated settings can provide a lower quality education. Further, we believe that children with different learning and behavioural profiles require understanding from the community at large, understanding which will not be fostered if children are not in their community. It is our belief that social attitudes generally still need to change dramatically and that human rights abuses continue to exist as a result of ignorance and misunderstanding. Two cases recently reported in the Herald, “Man kept like Animal” (14 June) and “Autistic Man is locked in isolation for 5 years” (6 June) highlight the issue of continued mistreatment of disabled people and the absence of systems which support understanding and dignity. We note that all parents seek to protect their child and that many parents will feel that any threat to the ‘safety’ of their child must be removed. However, IEAG believe that the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities have not been awarded sufficient attention and legal enforceability. This has resulted in insufficient environmental alterations and considerations as well as the rights of disabled people taking a back seat in relation to Health and Safety requirements. It is our belief that the rights of disabled people require more consideration, particularly when freedom is at stake and disabled people remain a minority.

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More Evidence Disabled Children get a Bad Deal in School

More Evidence Disabled Children Get a Bad Deal in School

Tuesday, 9 February 2016, 4:26 pm
Press Release: IHC
More Evidence That Disabled Children Aren’t Getting a Fair Deal at School

IHC welcomes the survey conducted by NZEI TE Riu Roa of Special Education Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) that shows a lack of adequate support for disabled students at school.

NZEI’s survey of Special Education Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) in schools, has revealed that around 16 percent of students were on schools’ special needs registers, but nearly 90 percent of schools’ special needs coordinators did not believe there was adequate support for students and their learning.

Trish Grant, IHC Director of Advocacy says, “The information in this survey provides us with another piece in the puzzle, creating an overall picture demonstrating the urgent need for a total transformation of the policy and funding framework for the education of disabled students.

“The results of the NZEI survey mirror IHC’s survey - both provide clear evidence that there’s not enough funding to meet the need and not enough resourcing of teachers who play a critical role in ensuring that disabled students access education on the same basis as their non-disabled peers.

“Clearly the Ministry of Education’s approach of increasing some specific funding priorities is not fixing the problems, rather is adding to the difficulties experienced by teachers, schools and students. Both the NZEI and IHC surveys clearly point to the need for transparency on government funding priorities”.

“IHC calls for an “open the books” exercise. The MOE will be just as concerned as IHC is about the lack of effectiveness of the substantial investments made so far,” says Trish Grant.

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