A new direct-access pathway for students to attend residential special schools will be available later this year.

Following the decision to keep Salisbury School open, Education Minister Chris Hipkins asked the Ministry of Education to work with New Zealand’s three residential special schools – Halswell, Salisbury and Westbridge – to develop a new direct access pathway.

Details of that pathway were announced today by Hipkins and Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin, who expect that more children and young people with complex and challenging learning support needs will benefit from government-funded places at these schools.

“The direct access pathway will provide broader access for young people and their families. We believe these residential environments will provide the best educational setting for their specific needs,” says Hipkins.

Applications for enrolment will be assessed by independent regional panels, as they currently are for the Intensive Wraparound Service, to ensure that this intensive learning support is provided to those who most need it.

“Criteria are consistent across both access pathways. However, specific guidance will be provided for the regional prioritisation panels to support their consideration of applications for each of the access pathways,” says Tracey Martin.

“Once an application is approved, the principals of the three schools will meet to discuss which school would be a best fit for the young person.

“Enrolment applications for residential special schools will be able to be made during Term 3 with the intention that enrolments under the new access pathway can commence in Term 4.”

In order to access residential special schooling a person must be aged 8 years to 15 years (Year 3-10) with social, behaviour, and/or learning needs that are highly complex and challenging, and require support at school, home and in the community. Local learning support services have also been unable to meet the person’s needs.

Martin says the Ministry will continue to work closely with the residential special schools on a detailed implementation plan, so the new direct access pathway is available from Term 4, 2018.

In the meantime, if parents are interested in enrolling their child at a residential special school, they should contact their current learning support provider or a Ministry specialist.

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