Greens promise to boost special education funding by $315 million

Green MPs Marama Davidson and Catherine Delahunty and Berhampore School on Thursday morning.
Green MPs Marama Davidson and Catherine Delahunty and Berhampore School on Thursday morning. Photo credit: Newshub/ Lloyd Burr

The Greens have launched a $315 million plan to overhaul the education system for those with special learning needs.

The funding will increase the availability of learning support and extra care for children who need it, and provide a special fund to ensure all children can attend school camps and activities.

Education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said it will take pressure off teachers to allow them more time for students, and make support more accessible.

"At the moment in this country there are children who can't attend school because of a lack of support staff, a lack of training, and lack of access."

The Greens want one full-time 'Children's Champion' (currently called a special education needs co-ordinator) for every 400 children to help support those with high needs, at a cost of $70 million over three years.

They want to double the funding available for the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) and the early intervention service at a cost of $215 million over three years, and an extra $25 million over three years in professional development for teachers in targeted learning support.

A $5 million annual fund would ensure young people with special education needs are able to attend school activities and camps.

"It's part of the birthright of every child that they should go on school camp with their mates and be part of school," Ms Delahunty said. 

The Greens want to centrally fund support staff, and establish new processes for students with learning support needs who get suspended or excluded from school.

Ms Delahunty said 80,000 - 100,000 children are currently getting some form of learning support in New Zealand schools, and the Greens funding policy would double the amount of children who could gain that assistance.

She said a lack of funding for children with special education needs is "the elephant in the room".

"Even though it says in the law that every child can go to their local school the reality is that some children because of a lack of support get less than an hour or half a day to actually be in school. That's just wrong."