A new funding system, will be introduced in all NSW schools from next month as part of an overhaul of the way children with disabilities are supported. The government will announce today a package of extra measures to better equip schools and improve teacher training. Of the 740,000 students enrolled in more than 2200 public schools in NSW, 90,000 – 12 per cent – have a disability, with the rate increasing steadily in the past 20 years.
From Disability News Asia
Mar 27: NAPLAN test results and school assessment will be among a range of measures the state government will use to help it distribute funding for the rapidly growing number of children with disabilities in public schools across the state.
A new funding system, trialled for two years in schools in the Illawarra region, will be introduced in all NSW schools from next month as part of an overhaul of the way children with disabilities are supported.
The government will announce today a package of extra measures to better equip schools and improve teacher training. Of the 740,000 students enrolled in more than 2200 public schools in NSW, 90,000 – 12 per cent – have a disability, with the rate increasing steadily in the past 20 years.
The new initiatives aim to give schools greater access to special needs teachers and boost professional development for teachers through online training, university courses and resources.
Many small schools in rural areas that have not had access to specialist teachers and resources will receive additional support, but some larger schools may see a reduction in their present levels of funding.
Students will no longer require a diagnosis to qualify for funding. Schools will be assessed according to the community prevalence of autism, which is based on a one-in-100 ratio. Some teachers involved in the Illawarra trial have said they fear the funding model will produce winners and losers. Additional funding of $6000 or more will be available for children diagnosed with serious disabilities.
NSW will use a funding boost of $48 million over two years from the federal government to improve specialist training for teachers to better support children with a range of disabilities, learning and mental disabilities.
The NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, said the ”Every Student, Every School” policy would result in a 30 per cent increase in the number of specialist teachers working in schools, providing more than 1800 learning and support teacher positions for primary, secondary and central schools. Itinerant specialist teachers will be given a permanent placing in schools or groups of schools to increase the amount of time they spend in the classroom.
More than 300 tertiary education scholarships will be awarded to improve professional development of teachers and online training will be expanded.
Mr Piccoli said the $48 million in federal funding was on top of $1.18 billion in recurrent state government funding to support students with disabilities.
Graeme McLeod, principal of Gosford East Public School, said at first glance the new policy was good news.
”It looks like it will provide more flexibility and shift the resources closer to the school,” he said.
Lila Mularczyk, deputy president of the Secondary Principals Council, said the new model would improve the capacity for all schools to meet the needs of students with disabilities.
”Principals associations have long been calling for a restructure of the current program and believe this is a much-improved approach,” she said.
The federal parliamentary secretary for school education, Senator Jacinta Collins, said $63 million would be spent on NSW schools, including those from the independent and Catholic sectors.
Featured Image Credit: Wright State University