Draft Policy for Students With Disabilities August, 2010
The NSW Parents Council strongly supports and endorses the recent findings and 31 recommendations of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the provision of education to students with a disability or special needs. Of particular note are the recommendations in relation to funding, assessment of disability and training.
There has been much debate in recent times as to the allocation of scarce resources for students with disabilities between the government and non-government school sectors. We would argue that no sector have adequate funding and propose the following approach:
- The funding of students with disabilities nationally should be quarantined from the current and increasingly complex historically based systems of funding;
- An agreed national criteria for the identification of disability be developed based not only on medical diagnosis but also on functional and contextual capacity;
- Agreed national funding standards be implemented that apply to all students with disability regardless of their schooling choice. This funding will follow the child and result in a transparent and open allocation of public funding;
- It is unrealistic to expect mainstream schools to be able to accommodate the needs of all children with disabilities and additional funding to develop and sustain highly-skilled specialist schools and support classes for children with disabilities must be protected; and
- There should be a further pool of resources available for additional infrastructure required to accommodate students with disabilities such as modifications to environments, equipment storage, additional support staff etc.
There is an important window of opportunity now with the Australian Government’s current Review of Funding for Schooling to make a paradigm shift in the provision of a relevant and well resourced educational experience for our most vulnerable students.
SWD Taskforce co-ordinator
14th August, 2010