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It's Time to act for equality for students with disability
In 2011, the Review of Funding for Schooling collected 7000 submissions, the vast majority from public schools in NSW. These submissions were completed by teachers, parents, community members and organisations, all who hold the belief that every child must have the chance to receive a high-quality education. This is critically important for students with disability who face challenges other students do not.
Teachers in public schools work hard to ensure that issues such as access, specialist support, health and wellbeing are appropriate for students so they can learn in a safe environment. However, NSW public schools do not have the necessary resources to meet the learning needs of all students, especially considering more than 75 per cent of students with disability attend public schools, and of that number, 80 per cent of students with disabilities are enrolled in mainstream settings.
The stark reality is that these learning needs cannot be met without adequate funding, yet our schools and specialist settings remain under-resourced. With the number of students eligible for additional funding continuing to grow, governments must meet these needs with funding commitments commensurate with the specialist learning requirements of our students in the mainstream, as well as in schools for specific purposes (SSP) and support units.
A 2017 Australian Education Union survey identified that most public schools have insufficient resources to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Despite this funding situation, federal governments have continued to cut funding for students with disabilities and failed to fund loadings through federal and state funding agreements.
It’s 'Time to Act' to address inequity for students with disability in public education — our students and staff can no longer wait.
Students and teachers in SSPs and support units must receive an immediate redress to understaffing, under-resourcing and underfunding. Additional release time, permanent teachers, executive entitlement and subject specialist teachers must be a part of our specialist settings in order to provide adequate targeted support to students who deserve it the most.
Federation’s call for equity through action hopes to galvanise support in every school community. By working together, we believe we can ensure our government provides equity and support to all students with disability, including through improvements for SSPs and school support units across the state.
A well-resourced public education system — one that values diversity, understands social and cognitive development, reaches out to all learners through inclusive processes, and is responsive to fundamental human needs — has the potential to develop actively engaged, resilient and connected individuals who lead lives with hope as productive members of the wider community.
Members in schools are asked to actively participate in the campaign. For more information, follow #TimeToActNSW on Federation’s social media, visit the campaign page at nswtf.org.au/timetoact and contact your local Organiser with any questions.
— Hannah Archer Lawton, Acting Officer attached to the Special Education Restricted Committee