Every child and young person has the right to education. 1 in 5 children and young people need some kind of extra support for their learning.
Inclusive education is about making sure all children can take part in school, learn and achieve, whatever their needs or differences.
Disability and learning support is about providing the extra support some children need to belong and achieve in education.
A workforce of around 94,000 school teachers, early learning teachers, teacher aides, principals, specialist teachers, Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB), and specialist staff (e.g. speech-language therapists, psychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists) work hard to contribute to providing learning support.
More than $1 billion is spent each year on learning support. How this money is allocated is complex. Funding has not kept pace with demand and waiting times for services have increased.
What people tell us
We’ve heard from children and young people, parents and whānau, and others in the disability and education sector with concerns about how effective the current system is.
- In 2017, over 42% of disabled young people aged 15 to 24 were not in employment, education or training.
- People with learning differences whose needs were never identified or not identified early enough are more likely to be dependent on benefits, experience mental health issues, or be in prison.
- Some parents of children who need extra support report that their child has been discouraged from enrolling at their local school, is not allowed to attend full school hours, or has been excluded from activities outside the classroom.
- Teachers and support workers find it challenging to support children and young people with complex behaviour and learning needs whilst meeting the needs of all learners in the classroom.
- The current system has evolved over many years. As a result it has become increasingly complex, slow and difficult to navigate.
- There are gaps in support for those children and young people who do not meet the criteria for high needs support.
- Children with dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism spectrum disorder do not always have their needs recognised and have difficulty accessing the services they need.
- Teachers do not get enough guidance to support these students in the classroom.