NSW Labor Leader, Michael Daley, has announced Labor’s plan to better support students with specific learning needs, including hiring an additional 150 support education teachers and frontline professional support staff.
Mr Daley was joined by Shadow Minister for Education, Jihad Dib, Labor’s candidate for Coogee, Marjorie O’Neill, as well as Delta Society General Manager, Hollee James, at Clovelly today.
“I want all kids in NSW to have the same chance at school and to have access to the support they may need,” Mr Daley said.
There are more than 134,000 students in NSW who require personalised learning and support because of a disability or other specific learning need. They make up approximately 14 per cent of the public school population.
Mr Dib said: “Whilst teachers will always try their best to teach and to ensure every student has the best education possible, a large proportion aren’t trained on how to best support a student with a disability or specific need.”
Labor’s Every Child Counts policy will include additional training for teachers as well as improvements to the school travel program, a trial of therapy dogs in Schools for Specific Purposes (SSPs) and a dedicated team to support students with specific learning needs and disability to transition into post-school employment or further study.
If elected later this month, Labor will:
- Employ an additional 100 Specialist Teachers to support students with a disability or specific education need while in mainstream schooling - allowing schools to run additional integrated and support model classrooms.
- Employ an additional 30 Disability and Specific Learning Support Staff to work with teachers in schools - to further develop and support customised teaching and learning programs for students with a disability or specific needs.
- Employ 20 additional Support Teachers Transition (specialists to assist students with disability and additional learning and support needs) in Department of Education District Offices - to work with students and families in SSPs to guide students into post-school employment and/or further study.
- Pilot a program of therapy animals in SSPs - animal-assisted therapy has been proven to help students physically and emotionally and has been found to improve physical mobility, reduce anxiety, and improve social and emotional literacy.
- Expand teacher training - so that all teachers have additional skills to better support students with specific needs.
- Improve access to the Assisted School Travel Program (ASTP) - to reduce the unreasonable financial burden currently experienced by families of children with disabilities.
Acting Shadow Minister for Disability Services, Kate Washington, said: “A consistent message I’ve heard from families and schools, is that children with disabilities desperately need more support - Labor will ensure they have the support they need to thrive at school.”
Mr Daley said: “Labor will put students and families first instead of spending $2.2 billion on stadiums.”
Mr Dib added: “Today’s announcement is a Daley Labor Government starting point. Our long term commitment is to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn in the most inclusive education system we build.”