Special Education Policy Principles

These 7 principles guide everyone who is involved with young children and students with special education needs.

They form the basis for our Special Education policy that aims to achieve a world class inclusive education system where all students have fair access to quality education.

Go to the education and disability legislation guiding our special education policy.

Young children and students with special education needs have the same rights to a high quality education as people who do not have special education needs.

This principle will be visible in practice when:

  • Young children and students with special education needs have access to the same range of age-appropriate education settings as other young children and students
  • There is recognition of the legal right of young children and students with special education needs to enrol and attend school on the same basis as all other young children and students
  • Early childhood education services and schools provide a supportive climate which meets the individual educational needs of all young children and students
  • Central agencies, early childhood education services and schools accept and value all young children and students
  • Educators have the skills and confidence to assist young children and students who have a broad range of needs and abilities
  • Early childhood education services and schools provide education of the highest quality to all young children and students enrolled
  • Early childhood education centres and schools are progressively upgraded to provide physical access
  • Transport assistance is provided between the home and education setting where a need is clearly established

The rights of young children and students with special education needs and their families/whanau to confidentiality and other protections afforded by the Privacy Act 1993 are respected.

Our primary focus is to meet the individual learning and developmental needs of young children and students

This principle will be visible in practice when:

  • Services are available to ensure the earliest possible identification of and support for young children and students with special education needs
  • The Individual Education Programme (IEP), which occurs within the context of the family/whanau, education setting and community, is the basis of programmes for young children and students with special education needs
  • Early childhood education services, schools, providers of teacher education and central agencies provide training for teachers to meet the educational needs of all their young children and students
  • Professional development for regular and special educators, teacher aides and boards of trustees is provided
  • Specialist support and advisory services are nationally available to individuals, families/whanau, early childhood education services and schools
  • All young children and students achieve to their full potential
  • Schools and early childhood education services adapt programmes so that young children and students with special education needs are included
  • The curriculum is inclusive of the educational needs, experiences, interests and values of all students.

All young children and students with identified special education needs have access to a fair share of the available special education resources.

This principle will be visible in practice when:

  • National special education resources are distributed fairly to meet identified special education needs wherever the young child or student is educated
  • Decisions on individual resource needs are based on valid, fair and culturally appropriate assessment practices
  • Resources are retained in special schools and units while supported by enrolments
  • Any special education resources released by reorganisation are retained for special education purposes
  • Regular reviews of all special education resources are undertaken to ensure that resource needs and resource allocation are well matched
  • Schools and early childhood education services are aware of the available resources and support services, and use them when required.

Partnership between students' families/whanau and education providers is essential in overcoming barriers to learning.

This principle will be visible in practice when:

  • Information about the barriers to learning and the provision of resources is shared between families/whanau and education providers
  • Full information is provided to families/whanau to enable them to make sound education choices and to participate fully in the enrolment, assessment, planning, programming, placement and monitoring of the young child or student's progress
  • Both education providers and families/whanau share in the responsibility for ensuring maximum benefit from the resource
  • Families/whanau are able to have placement and other decisions reviewed
  • Families/whanau may choose to be supported by an advocate in assessment, planning, placement, review and appeal processes
  • Schools and early childhood education services consult with families/whanau of young children and students with special education needs when recruiting and appointing special education staff.

All special education resources are used in the most effective and efficient way possible, taking into account parent choice and the needs of the young child or student.

This principle will be visible in practice when:

  • Education providers are accountable for efficient and effective use of resources
  • The various providers of special education services co-ordinate their services effectively
  • Services for special education are co-ordinated with regular education and with services provided by health and welfare agencies at national and local levels
  • Criteria for individual special education resource entitlements are consistent and transparent
  • Decisions, wherever possible, are made collaboratively by those closest to a student.

A young child or student's language and culture comprise a vital context for learning and development and must be taken into consideration in planning programmes.

This principle will be visible in practice when:

  • Special education is responsive to the needs and preferences of the tangata whenua
  • The special education needs of young children and students from different ethnic groups are met in culturally appropriate ways
  • The special education needs of young children and students are met in ways which reflect any culture or identity associated with their disability group
  • Appropriately skilled staff are appointed.

Young children and students with special education needs will have access to a seamless education from the time that their needs are identified through to post-school options.

This principle will be visible in practice when:

  • Admission and transition procedures enable young children and students to move successfully from one education setting to another, or to a workplace.

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