Update on situation in New Zealand

I have had an update on the situation in New Zealand which was a little unclear from reading the newspaper reports. Apparently it is not as bad as first thought. I have received the following explanation of the situation and it is reproduced here with kind permission from Dave Ching:

The recent government budget included cutting a therapy entitlement for all school facilities catering for the physically disabled including the 3 Conductive Education facilities based in primary schools in NZ. …..not all of the funding, just some. This was a funding allocation that was given in 2001 on a transitional basis for a three year period while a major research was to be carried out to ascertain the level of funding support that was necessary to support profoundly disabled students in school facilities that cater for the such students. The major research project on behalf of the Ministry of Education was carried out by Cath Wylie and became known as the Wylie Report (Wylie, 2000). This was released in August 2000 and in October 2000 the decision was announced by the MOE in October of that year and implemented from the start of 2001. The particular recommendation from that Wylie Report that resulted in this therapy entitlement is quoted below:

 

“I recommend the creation of a top-up funding pool for the next three years, to provide security for planning and employment. This pool is likely to cost between $1.5 to 2 million per annum. Funding should be given on the basis that the schools will contribute to a shared data base of case studies to develop a clearer understanding of the outcomes and costs of reasonable provision for different students, so that sound decisions can be made after the three year period.” 

Note the reference to the suggested collection of case studies to establish criteria on which those sound decisions would be based. That data was collected over the 3 years and a report compiled. The report did not include outcomes…..it was obviously up to the MOE to create those outcomes from the data and put in place some long term entitlements. However the Ministry never came to any conclusions and the entitlement was rolled over each year until the present ……when it is to be scrapped from the beginning of next year. This funding was given as an entitlement to employ therapists (Occupational, Physio & speech) in 26 facilities through NZ. In the case of the 3 Conductive Education school facilities this therapy entitlement was cashed up and the money used to employ the conductors. The government made a commitment that at the end of the 3 year period, outcomes and long term decisions would be made as to the funding levels these facilities would attract. This commitment was never honoured and at the end of this 3 year period, the therapy entitlement was “rolled over” each year through to the present day. This promised research was never acted on, nor did any outcomes result. With a new government being elected they have just cut that funding entitlement in the budget.

 I stress that this only effects 3 of our 10 units.

 Meetings are being held with Ministry of Education officials and Government Ministers in the hope of getting the decision reversed. If that cannot happen it is intended to try to find alternative funding for those 3 facilities. The units will not close. To keep the conductors it may mean less teachers for example.

 

The August newsletter of the New Zealand Foundation to be sent out next week will give a clearer background to the issue. Since receiving the above I have been told that one unit at Naenae Primary School in Lower Hutt is now is covered for next year, they have found a way of filling the gaps.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/66158/minister-reassuring-special-needs

http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/christchurch/2518930/114-000-cut-from-budget/

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/national-news/2510497/Cash-pledge-on-disabled-unit

Wylie, C. (2000) Picking up the pieces. Review of special education 2000. Wellington: Ministry of Education.

http://www.executive.govt.nz/minister/dalziel/wylie_review.pdf

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