As anticipated, learning support was the big winner in this year’s education Budget.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin today announced what they described as “an overdue boost” of $272.8 million for learning support to help young people reach their potential.

Hipkins says it will go a long way towards addressing funding and demand pressures.  The funding will be spread over four years across five learning support initiatives. These are:

  • The ongoing resourcing scheme (ORS) receives an extra $133.5 million for about 1,000 additional students from next year.
  • Sensory schools and New Zealand Sign Language receive an extra $30.2 million to support about 2,900 deaf and hard-of-hearing students and approximately 1,500 low-vision students.
  • Teacher-aide funding receives an extra $59.3 million.
  • Te Kahu Tōī intensive wraparound service receives an extra $4.8 million to reach an extra 30 eligible students each year, increasing delivery to 365 students from July 2018.
  • Early Intervention Services receives a $21.5 million operating boost, plus $272,000 capital, to recruit additional early intervention staff.

Tracey Martin says the plan focuses on ensuring every child with learning challenges has access to the tools and professionals they need.

“Our plan puts young people and their needs at the centre of the system, and will correct the glaring inequities in education,” she says.

The PPTA welcomed the extra funding for learning support.

“The need for support for special education is clear, and we welcome anything that will enable more students to get the support to thrive at school,” said Jack Boyle, PPTA president.

NZEI president Lynda Stuart said that while the additional $273m was welcome, it was inadequate compared to the $444m that Infometrics calculated was needed to meet the demands on the high-needs Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS).

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