Background information to the Learning Support Update

In mid 2015, we consulted extensively with over 3650 parents, whanau, schools and local communities to understand their frustrations with dealing with Special Education.

Using the feedback received, we developed the Update action plan [PDF, 461 KB] which was proactively released by the Minister of Education Hon. Hekia Parata, along with the findings of the consultation [PDF, 1 MB]
A summary of the consultation findings [PDF, 276 KB] is also available.

From the end of March 2016 to mid-May 2016, using the Updated action plan, we talked to education agencies about the changes we planned to make.

The responses from this and earlier feedback from the disability and parent representatives helped us prepare the July 2016 Cabinet paper: Strengthening Inclusion and Modernising Learning Support [PDF, 895 KB].

On 19 August 2016, the Minister announced the next steps to modernise and improve learning support, agreeing that we will focus on:

  • Measuring individual and system performance and improving accountability through a stronger outcomes framework
  • Improving investment decisions with a focus on three priorities:
    • reviewing the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme to ensure the most effective support for students, particularly those between 18 - 21 who are transitioning out of school
    • streamlining Communication Services so we reap the benefits of early intervention 
    • clustering Behaviour Services for greater learning support flexibility
  • Improving and modernising the Ministry’s own specialist services, and
  • Changing our Ministry language from "special needs" and "special education", as it can act as a barrier to developing a fully inclusive education system

Local improvement projects

Local improvement projects are continuing to develop solutions that fit their communities and agreed local priorities. Many of the projects focus on three improvement areas:

  • Better ECE to school transitions
  • Simpler processes for parents, and 
  • Earlier and better support for early childhood learners, their educators and parents.

The Learning Support Update’s local improvement projects were designed as an immediate response to the key findings from the previously termed Special Education Update engagement process undertaken during 2015.

The purpose of the projects was to develop and test service improvements, through a collaborative co-design process. The intention was that these improvements could be put in place relatively quickly and would enable easier access to services and support for children and young people, families/whānau, educators, schools and early childhood providers.

Local improvement projects have resulted in new ways of tailoring support to meet needs within a local community. Many of the projects focused on simpler and more co-ordinated transitions between early childhood education (ECE) to school.

The report provides a snap shot of key features of the projects including strengths and lessons learned. There are also examples of projects that have since moved into a business-as-usual approach to service.

The projects benefited from a commitment to ongoing learning and quality improvement from those involved.

Training and professional development for teachers

We’ll keep helping teachers by providing inclusive education training, professional development and online practical guidelines and information.

Education and social sector linkages

To achieve the big shifts needed for a fully inclusive education system, we are actively linking the Update with the Ministry’s other strategic priorities, in particular the:

We’re also aligning the Update with wider social support a child and their whānau may receive, including by contributing to the Ministry of Vulnerable Children and working with the Office of Disability Issues on refreshing the 2001 New Zealand Disability Strategy (external link) .

The new disability strategy will provide clear direction for government over the next 10 years, helping make informed decisions on issues that impact disabled people.

The Ministry of Vulnerable Children (external link) direction and changes will make a real difference for thousands of children and their whānau. We’re working closely with other agencies to help make the Ministry of Vulnerable Children a success.

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