Learning Support Action Plan for NZ set to support children with additional needs

by Freya Lucas

August 06

An action plan to improve the support available for New Zealand children, including those engaged in early childhood education and care (ECEC), was recently announced by the Honourable Tracey Martin. 

 

Ms Martin has responsibility for the Children, Internal Affairs, and Seniors portfolios in the country, as well as being Associate Minister for Education. 

 

She highlighted the needs of the nations children, saying that one in five (around 200,000) will require some form of extra support for their learning, and that it was the responsibility of the country to provide “a fair education system that meets the needs of all children, so they can develop their full potential and engage fully in society”. 

 

“Feedback from across the education and disability sectors, as well as from parents and whānau (extended family) and students themselves, has been very clear that we need to do a better job of helping these young people and meeting their diverse needs,” Ms Martin said. 

 

An increase in funding accompanied the announcement, with the Budget including an extra $29.6 million to respond to growth in demand.

 

The Learning Support Action Plan 2019-2025 is focused on six strategic priorities: 

 

  • Introducing the first tranche of Learning Support Co-ordinators in schools and kura (schools where lessons are conducted in Maori)

 

  • Developing new screening tools to help the early identification of learning support needs

 

  • Strengthening early intervention for pre-schoolers

 

  • Creating a flexible set of services and supports for neurodiverse children and young people

 

  • Better meeting the learning needs of gifted children and young people

 

  • Improving education for children and young people at risk of disengaging.

 

“This Government is strongly committed to improving learning support for New Zealand children and young people, and their parents and whānau,” Ms Martin said, highlighting the role of additional funding in ensuring the learning support that children require is more readily available.

 

“This additional funding is about ensuring we can provide the learning support that our children need. The Action Plan is about changing the way we deliver that support. It addresses the challenges we have seen for our students over the last decade in accessing that support in a timely fashion.”

 

The ultimate aim, Ms Martin concluded, was to “see progress towards an education system with a range of learning environments where disabled children and those with learning support needs are welcome and where their achievement, progress, wellbeing and participation is valued and supported”.

 

To access the Learning Support Action Plan, please see here. 

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