NPWDAC_1st_submission_review_funding_schooling.DOC - National People with Disabilities and Carer Council No More Wasted Years A systemic reform approach

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National People with Disabilities and Carer Council No More Wasted Years A systemic reform approach to learning and development for students with disabilities in Australia Submission to the Review of Funding for Schooling 2011 1
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1. Executive Summary Through a wide ranging consultation for the development of the National Disability Strategy, the National People with Disabilities and Carers Council has been made aware of a range of barriers and anomalies that exist for students with disabilities in being fully included in the education system. This submission highlights the systemic separation of disability in education, and proposes a total reform of education funding arrangements that will bring learning and development to the centre of expectations of schools. Neither mainstream or specialist settings have fully inclusive education programs that are leading to measurable developmental learning outcomes for students with disabilities. The current system focuses on disability diagnosis rather than functional capacity to learn, and invests almost exclusively in support services rather than specific educational programs. Education systems have invested in these ‘integration programs’ for some years, however they are exclusive and heavily rationed programs. Many children with genuine needs for additional assistance cannot access this funding due to quirks of eligibility filters or lack of overall funding, meaning that their schools are not properly resourced to provide an effective educational program. This is an unacceptable situation for schools, teachers and students, however it can be addressed through reform of the funding system. This reform is fundamental to the modern Australian education system, especially as Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) reports that 10% of children are developmentally compromised. It is now well recognised that schools need to be properly equipped to deal with these developmental issues across the board, whether related to disability or not. The key challenge is to be able to recognise individual educational need and provide the right measure of individual support and educational intervention to ensure a positive learning trajectory for all children. 2
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Key requirements of a new funding regime are as follows: effective early intervention framework focused on educational and learning needs explicit teacher training and professional development establishing a sound programmatic base for inclusive education placing specialist educators in schools to locally resource teachers. The National People with Disabilities and Carer Council makes the following recommendations: 1. Create a National Partnership on Learning, Development and Education of Students with a Disability to develop an evidence base and practice experience for inclusive education strategies.
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