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Learning Support Action Plan

Why have we created a draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan (Action Plan)?

Every child and young person has the right to education.

We have been working on a draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan developed in response to feedback from parents and whānau, and organisations and groups from the disability and education sector. The aim is to help children and young people who need it, get the right support at the right time – to make sure that all children can take part in school, whatever their needs or differences. It builds on current work, such as the Learning Support Delivery Model and Disability System Transformation.

What is the draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan seeking to achieve?

The goal is to drive progress towards an inclusive education system where children and young people with additional learning needs, including disabilities, are welcome, and where their achievement, progress, wellbeing and participation is valued and supported.

The draft Action Plan aims to strengthen the inclusiveness of the education system and build on the Learning Support Delivery Model, Disability System Transformation and other programmes of work in learning support.

The draft Action Plan sets out four priority outcomes and proposed a range of actions to progress each over the next few years. The aim is to enhance and widen the education system’s ability to support all children and young people with learning differences and challenges; and strengthen the workforce to improve services.

How were the priorities in the draft Action Plan developed?

The priorities in the draft Action Plan have been informed by:

  • the 2015 Review of Special Education
  • New Zealand Disability Strategy
  • Enabling Good Lives principles
  • Inquiry into Identification and Support for children and young people with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism Spectrum Disorders in primary and secondary schools
  • ongoing feedback from parents, whānau, young people and the disability and education sectors

What is inclusive education?

Inclusive education is where children and young people with additional learning needs, including disabilities, are welcome and where their achievement, progress, wellbeing and participation is valued and supported.

How does the Action Plan support inclusiveness across the education system?

The draft Action Plan leverages off key pieces of work within our wider education priorities such as the Education Workforce Strategy, supporting transitions, ongoing focus on data and evaluation, review of Tomorrow’s Schools, review of Ka Hikitia, review of the Pasifika Education Plan, review of the National Certificate in Educational Achievement, the Early Learning Strategic Plan and review of Home-Based Early Childhood Education.

It connects to the wider cross-government goals in the New Zealand Disability Strategy 2016 – 2026, Disability Action Plan 2019 – 2022 and the work underway on the Disability System Transformation and Child Wellbeing Strategy.

It will support New Zealand to meet its international human rights obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability (UNCRPD).

What are the four priority outcomes?

The four priority outcomes are:

  • Children’s learning needs are identified quickly and responded to in a timely way
  • Current service delivery gaps in provision are filled, so that there is a graduated system of response that better meets the needs of all learners, including at-risk children and young people.
  • Children and young people who are neurodiverse and/or gifted progress in education and achieve their potential
  • Learning support services are resourced to meet identified needs in an efficient and timely manner, with flexibility to change the mix of services to meet the needs of children and young people, families and whānau and education professionals.

What are the key proposed actions in the draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan?

The draft Action Plan proposes to enhance the education system’s ability to support all children and young people by:

  • the development of universal screening tools
  • improving the way the education system responds to neurodiverse and gifted learners through the development of information and other supports for teachers
  • providing a flexible support package for children and young people who are neurodiverse and other children and young people who are not eligible for ORS.
  • creating a new Learning Support Coordinator role
  • determining appropriate levels of investment for early intervention services
  • responding to pressures across specific supports such as Residential Special Schools, Early Intervention, Te Kahu Tōi/Intensive Wraparound Service, New Zealand Sign Language and Deaf education.

How do the outcomes and proposed actions relate to the Enabling Good Lives Principles?

The priorities and proposed Actions, alongside the Learning Support Delivery Model the Ministry is implementing, align well to the Enabling Good Lives Principles. The draft Action Plan and the Delivery Model are very much about a child or young person in the context of their family/whanau and their goals and aspirations.

The draft Action Plan supports a more inclusive education system, with greater flexibility and choice to support children and young people to belong and get on with their learning alongside peers. There is a strong focus on beginning early and focusing on strengths and relationships.

Why is there a focus on developing early screening tools?

We want to be able to identify earlier if a child will need learning support so we can respond earlier to their needs. This will reduce the impact on their learning and, for some children and young people, the need for more serious intervention later on.

We think having a set of screening tools in health, education and other agencies, in both English and Te Reo Māori, to assess all children at certain stages would help us do this more effectively in a more joined up way.

Why create the Learning Support Coordinator role?

The Action Plan proposes to establish a dedicated Learning Support Coordinator role in all schools and kura. The nature of the role will need to be worked out as a first part. The Learning Support Coordinator will work with parents and whānau, and help identify needs earlier. They’ll also help the school or kura to build up the capability and knowledge amongst teachers. This in turn will give more time for other specialists to focus on where they can have the most impact. Progressing this initiative would be dependent on available funding and would need to phased over a number of years.

What is neurodiverse?

Neurodiverse learners include those with dyspraxia, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyscalculia, autism, Tourette’s syndrome and others.

What is the Learning Support Delivery Model?

This is a new way of delivery learning support that has been developed in response to feedback from parents and whānau, and groups in the disability and education sector. It draws on international best practice, including Finland, Australia, USA, Scotland, England and Singapore.

This model is being implemented in with local offices working with particular early learning services, schools, providers and communities. This model aims to strengthen inclusive practices and modernise how learning is delivered.

The new model has six key elements:

  • a known contact point for family and whānau – someone they know they can go to for information and support.
  • a single plan that provides joined up support to meet each child or young person’s needs
  • schools, kura, early learning services and ngā kōhanga reo working together with specialists, iwi and providers to identify what their community needs and set priorities
  • more flexibility to create tailored support that is innovative and responsive
  • facilitation to bring together local education and service providers to work collaboratively
  • sharing data so that services can work together to support individual children and young people and get a clear picture of local needs and resources across a community.

Go to www.education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/specific-initiatives/learning-support/ to find out more about the Learning Support Delivery Model.

What’s the role of the Learning Support Facilitator?

This is a function currently funded by the Ministry of Education and already carried out by existing staff as part of the learning support delivery model.

The Learning Support Facilitator works with educators who understand the needs of their learning community and those who deliver services to identify need across the community, share data and make decisions on how the local resources will be used.

The Learning Support Facilitator facilitates the appropriate providers, groups and services to come together and coordinate supports for individual children and young people, and identify and plan for wider needs across the community.

The Learning Support Facilitator is also the formal contact for Learning Support Coordinators based in schools, kura and Kāhui Ako to enable quicker and easier access to wider disability and learning support services and enable a flexible response to individual need. They work closely together to coordinate support for individual children and young people and build skills and knowledge amongst teachers.

The decision about who carries out this function is made by the Director of Education within existing funding, who will look for the right mix of skills and abilities and consider the any possible impact on other services.

Can you tell me more about the Data and Evaluation components of the Action Plan?

There are two key components to this part of the Action Plan:

  • continued work in the data infrastructure that will underpin the Action Plan
  • data use and information sharing

We will be leveraging off the work that has been progressing through the Integrated Education Data (iEd) programme, and in particular the Student Information Sharing Initiative (SISI) project which is part of that work.

This work is aimed at gathering together data that is currently scattered into a meaningful form, and making the right data available to the right people at the right time. SISI is focused on developing a national repository of core learner information. We are co-designing it with education sector representatives in both English and Māori medium schools. A vital part of the iEd programme is ensuring that data and information about students is managed and used appropriately.

We will also be leveraging off the work on developing a Data Protection and Use Policy for the Social Sector that is currently underway. This is a major project that has recently engaged with disability and learning support providers, representatives and service users, through sessions held across the country.

How can I engage with or find out more about the data infrastructure work, already underway, that the Action Plan will leverage off?

If you want to find out more about iEd and SISI, or to get involved, please email iEd.programme@education.govt.nz

If you want to engage with the Data Protection and Use Policy for the Social Sector but have not been invited to be part of one of these sessions, please email them: info@sia.govt.nz

How does the proposal on the assessment and screening tools align with the work Curriculum, Progress and Achievement (CPA) work programme?

Both the CPA work programme and the draft Action Plan aim to improve how the learning needs of students are identified and responded to, including early identification of students who need additional support. The two programmes complement each other as part of building an inclusive education system where all students are valued and progress across the curricula.

Both pieces of work are still in the early stages. The upcoming engagements on the draft Action Plan and the emerging ideas for the CPA work programme will inform decisions by Ministers on the next steps. The draft DSLAP proposes the development of tools for assessing needs, and a central data collection process and system. Determining how much overlap there is between what would be included in these tools and what teachers assess as part of noticing and responding to important learning would be part of the next steps following engagement and Ministerial decisions.

How much will it cost to implement the Action Plan?

After the engagement process, a final Action Plan will be submitted to Cabinet for approval. Implementation of the Action Plan would depend on availability of funding, including funding through Budget processes for new initiatives. Any improvements would need to be sequenced and phased in over a number of years. It’s important we get the balance right between better coordination of services, supporting teachers, support in the classroom, and more one-to-one services.

When will the priories be implemented?

Once the Action Plan is finalised implementation will get underway. It will be important to sequence implementation, and we expect that implementation would be phased over a number of years. Implementation will be dependent on funding, and new initiatives would be subject to budget processes.

How can I be involved?

We are seeking feedback on the draft Action Plan from the 27 September to 31 October. We have invited stakeholders include unions, education and disability sector groups, parents, whānau and young people to view the draft Action Plan and provide feedback. We will be meeting with key stakeholders over the engagement period.

Information about the draft Action Plan and the survey is available at …(website address). This is the place where we can capture your feedback through the survey. Should you wish to provide feedback through another form of submission this can be emailed directly to dlsap.mailbox@education.govt.nz.

The Education Conversation website contains a number of consultation opportunities so we expect feedback from a wide range of people. We welcome feedback from all interested parties; please share the Action Plan and survey through your own networks.

Where can I find more information and the survey?

Information on the draft Action Plan and survey can be found at conversation.education.govt.nz. You can complete the survey as an individual or as a group. It should take approximately 10 minutes. The survey closes on the 31 October 2018.

I want to host a session for my group. Can you help me?

We can support you to run a session on the draft Disability and Learning Support Action Plan or provide you with information to host your own session. Please contact us at dlsap.mailbox@education.govt.nz.

What happens next?

We will consider your feedback alongside other responses we get throughout the engagement. We will use this information and other relevant feedback you may have given through other reviews to update the Action Plan. The updated Action Plan will be considered by Cabinet. Once finalised we will begin the next phase of identifying opportunities for us to work together to co-design and implement priorities.