Need for funding of special needs role in schools

A new survey shows that many children are missing out at school because there is not enough funding to give them the one-on-one support and resources they need to thrive and succeed.

The NZEI Te Riu Roa survey of school special needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) shows that they are struggling to get adequate support for the children and are swamped by the workload.

The survey findings have reinforced NZEI’s advocacy for a fully funded permanent and designated SENCO in every school.

NZEI Te Riu Roa president Lynda Stuart said the best society is one in which the most vulnerable members are protected and supported to thrive. “What does this say about us when we cannot fund and support the people who are doing their best on a shoe-string, often in their own time, to help these children?

“We are identifying an increasing number of children with severe learning and behavioural needs and not being able to help them in the way we should.”

[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”4703″ align=”left”] At the moment, SENCOs are often permanent staff members – often teachers or deputy principals – who already have a full-time workload and work after hours to fulfil the role and “scratch around to find funding for children”, says Ms Stuart.

SENCO at Karori West School, Janice Jones, says having a dedicated, funded SENCO in schools would make a world of difference as it would spread the workload – writing applications, finding funding and targeting the teaching and learning of the most vulnerable students.

“We are desperate for better resourcing: there are great people in the Ministry of Education providing support – educational psychologists and speech language therapists for example, but there are not enough of them, and the wait time for their service is unacceptably slow. We are also desperate for more teacher aide support in classrooms.”

Ms Stuart says the SENCO role is complex and demanding. “It requires knowledge, skills and perseverance to be able to negotiate the current system.”

Other results from the survey, which is a follow-up to a 2016 survey, include:
• 48 percent of respondents did not get any release time for their SENCO role
• 30 percent of respondents do not receive any financial compensation for the role
• 72 percent either disagreed, or strongly disagreed, that it was easy to obtain access to external support for children in a reasonable timeframe.
• 36  percent were not at all confident, or only confident to a certain extent, to carry out their role
• 61 percent said they would be interested in obtaining a SENCO specific qualification
• 16 percent had funded their own professional development

You can check out the full survey results here.

School News

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5 years ago

Perhaps provide a link to the full survey results.
I would post it here but the form will not allow it.

Rosie Clarke
5 years ago
Reply to  Vanya

Thanks Vanya, there is a link to it in the second paragraph (first line), however it’s not very obvious so I have added another link at the bottom of the post. Thanks for your comment 🙂

Donna Southorn
Donna Southorn
5 years ago

I’m a registered nurse who works in low decile high schools and alternative education. There is a proportion of students reaching year 9 who feel they are failures at school, its all too hard and they play up because they cant engage. Many of them come from families with learning disabilities and they have had teacher aids at primary but have never been tested = no diagnosis-no funding for support in schools. Families with the money will pay the $600 to have their child privately assessed and then the ministry has the information they need to fund the support at school. In the communities I work in the kids are older and poorer and many end up leaving school early with low literacy levels and low self esteem. I see the lack of special needs funding as a direct contributor to education failure, mental and behavioural problems, substance abuse, risk taking behaviour and criminal activity. We cant go on leaving these kids to fend for themselves because its too difficult to get an educational psychologist assessment! The system needs to change, our poor SENCOs are swamped, there are too many barriers to getting kids assessed for learning disabilities and too few people qualified to do them.

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