Further adjustments to Education Amendment Bill needed for students with disabilities

Further adjustments to Education Amendment Bill needed for students with disabilities

March 1, 2017

For New Zealand to meet our human rights obligations, it’s vital that our education system is inclusive. The Commission recently provided a submission to the Education and Science Committee the make sure the Education (update) Amendment Bill 2016 achieves that aim. 

At the Committee held in early February, the Commission reiterated the need for further adjustments and additions to the Education (Update) Amendment Bill 2016, to ensure it meets the needs of students with disabilities.

Disability Commissioner Paul Gibson said the Commission welcomed many of the amendments that the Bill is seeking to introduce. However, a significant omission from the Bill is a legislative provision that establishes a clear right to inclusive education.

“Education is so important – giving children the skills and learnings required to grow in to successful New Zealanders. It is vital that we offer the same opportunities to all young people, whether they have different educational and support needs or not,” Mr Gibson says.

“The Ministry of Education has confirmed, as a matter of policy, that to meet our human rights obligations to children with disabilities, our education system must be inclusive. It is vital that inclusive education principles are formalised in legislation to enable this.

“This Amendment Bill is an opportune time to look at updating the Act to make it explicitly clear that our education system is welcoming of all students, and to ensure our schools are provided with the necessary support to make sure that is possible.”

The Commission also submitted on the Education Amendment Bill Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) number 250, which seeks to prohibit seclusion in schools and limit the use of restraint to situations where the safety of students is at risk.

“We are supportive of this proposed change, particularly as seclusion and restraint has a disproportionate impact on students with disabilities,” Mr Gibson says.

“We need to ensure the final framework is safe, transparent, and clear for all concerned, including students, their families, and teachers.

“While we welcome the amendments in the SOP, we note that current practice and guidelines will need to be updated and regularly monitored and reviewed to make sure that all schools are providing a safe learning environment for all students.”

To view these submissions, please click on the links below: 

https://www.hrc.co.nz/files/7514/8599/2650/Human_Rights_Commission_Submission_on_the_Education_Update_Bill_2016_.pdf

https://www.hrc.co.nz/files/9714/8599/2648/HRC_submission_on_the_SOP_to_the_Education_Amendment_Bill_Final.pdf

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