The Green Party would boost special education services in schools by $115 million if in government, doubling the number of children who can access the highest levels of support, it announced today.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said successive governments had short-changed children with special education needs and as a result they were being denied a good education.
"Currently only about 7900 kids get access to the highest level of special needs support, but double that number that help," Mrs Turei said.
"An arbitrary cap on the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme means only 1 per cent of kids are funded for support, regardless of the actual number of kids who need it. That's unacceptable."
The key points of the Green's special education policy include:
• Doubling the number of children who receive the Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS) by providing an additional $95 million a year in funding.
• Increasing funding for the Early Intervention service by $15 million each year so preschool children are identified and given the support they need.
• Providing an additional $5 million to Green's school free after school and holiday programme fund to increase services for children with special needs.
• Undertaking a comprehensive review of the design, delivery, and funding of special education in New Zealand.
Every child had the right to an education at their local school which met their individual needs and allowed them to fulfil their potential, Mrs Turei said.
Schools were increasingly being forced to use their Special Education Grant - designed for children with moderate needs - to cover a lack of support for children with higher needs, she said.
"The chronic underfunding means less resources go towards children with moderate needs. Too often these kids are short-changed as well.
"Other kids in a classroom can miss out too, as their teachers spread themselves thin," Mrs Turei said.
"In government the Green Party will stop this short changing of our children's education."
The Green's policy would ensure children with disabilities were able to attend the same after-school-care service as their siblings, she said.
"Starting in our schools hub, we'll provide the funding and training necessary to ensure that OSCAR approved providers are set up to meet all kids' needs."
"Most importantly, in government we will undertake a comprehensive review of the design, delivery and funding of special education in New Zealand, so that it is focused on meeting children's needs.
"Our school hubs policy is about ensuing all children have equal access to a good education, whether their parents are poor, they are sick, or they have a disability or learning difficulty.
"We will all be better off when every child is able to reach their potential," Mrs Turei said.