In the lead up to International Day of Persons with Disabilities (Friday, 3 December) NZEI Te Riu Roa is shedding light
on the under-resourcing of the learning support sector and encouraging educators, whānau and wider supporters to sign up
to their campaign, Ngā Aukaha All in for Tamariki.
“Currently, many tamariki are missing out on the support they need due to severe underfunding and extremely long wait
times for support services. This puts additional pressure on educators in schools and classrooms,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa
President Liam Rutherford.
On average, one third of Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS) applications are rejected.
“With regards to ORS funding, what we are hearing from educators and parents is how the criteria is very narrow and
applications for this much needed support take an extremely long time,” says Rutherford.
“I cannot fathom how an inclusive education system excludes some children from accessing what they need because their
needs may fall outside current criteria for service. I cannot fathom why some disabilities attract support where others
do not,” says primary teacher and parent, Margie Askin-Jarden.
“Neither of my boys are on track to leave high school with any NCEA qualifications. Learning support has not been
flexible or responsive enough along the way to be able to provide their schools with anything other than well-meaning
advice,” says Jarden.
The aim of the Ngā Aukaha All in for Tamariki campaign is to ensure each child in Aotearoa feels connected, supported,
and valued at school or in their early childhood education.
The campaign demands include:Funding a dedicated Learning Support Coordinator or SENCO in every school and early childhood centreExpand the ORS criteria and increase the funding available so that it is based on need, rather than a fixed amount of
fundingIncrease dedicated teacher aide funding in early childhood centres and schools. (Currently, just two thirds of teacher
aide hours are funded by Ministry of Education learning support).Increase the number of specialists (e.g. psychologists, physiotherapists and resource teachers) to meet student need.Develop and provide greater professional development (including career pathways) and specialist opportunities for
educators to develop their understanding of learning support, including Initial Teacher Education.