The Special Education Principals Association (SEPAnz) has welcomed the government’s proposals for the future shape of the greater Christchurch Special Schools Network.
It supports the association’s advocacy for the right of parents with children who have Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND), to have their ORS verified child attend a special school or an attached satellite if this best meets their child’s needs, SEPAnz president Graeme Daniel says. “The proposals in the report provide a unique opportunity for the three special schools in Christchurch to consider their future.”
Mr Daniel says the consultation is to consider if the special schools may co-locate independently alongside a mainstream school and to consider the satellite provision across greater Christchurch.
“The core business of these schools will ensure that families who have children with significant needs are not alienated from learning,” Mr Daniel says.
“In spite of the ongoing rhetoric from the Inclusive Education Action Group (IEAG) and other NGOs who seek the closure of special schools, this consultation is not about reviewing whether special schools are needed in the network or any other aspects of their operation.
These NGOs do not speak for all parents who have a child with special education needs and disability.
“For too long the inclusion debate has focused on whether children with learning disabilities should be educated in mainstream schools or special schools and units rather than the quality of education and support they receive.
“SEPAnz believes that inclusion is about the common enterprise of learning rather than where a student learns. Parents have the right to choose from the full continuum of educational settings including a special school or attached satellite unit.
“Parents need to be given the opportunity to make informed choices without overt or subtle bias toward one particular educational setting and without an emphasis on a crude interpretation of inclusion,” Mr Daniel says.