Disabled children have the same right to education at their local school as other children. In 2010 the government announced its target of having 100 percent of schools being either mostly inclusive, or have some inclusive practices by 2014.
The 2010 Education Review Office (ERO) report found that only fifty per cent of schools surveyed were fully inclusive, 30 percent were partially inclusive and 20 percent were not inclusive.
The latest ERO report released in March ranked 78 percent of schools mostly inclusive, up from 50 percent from the 2010 report. The proportion of schools with few inclusive practices dropped 19 percentage points.
Education Minister Hekia Parata welcomed the report saying it shows the government is just about there with their target, with 99 percent of schools having at least some inclusive practices.
“The ERO report shows a sea change is underway. Schools have become much more welcoming places for children with special educational needs. Schools can be proud of the progress they have made,” says Ms Parata.
“The report has some great examples of effective practice in schools and ERO tells me that there was no shortage of these examples compared to what was available for the earlier report.”
But CCS Disability Action warned that the two reports were not directly comparable because the 2010 report focussed solely on students with high needs while the latest report covered all students with special education needs.
Disability Commissioner Paul Gibson says that while the ERO inclusion rates are going up, the report evidently shows that a quarter of our schools are a long way off welcoming all children in their community into their schools.
“While there has been some progress in getting schools prepared and able to accept all children, part of this work is to change the culture of accepting that it is okay for disabled children to be schooled elsewhere, when it is absolutely not okay,” he said.
“I agree with CCS Disability Action that it is quite possible, and entirely legal, for the Ministry to look into a range of alternatives and tools to achieve the government’s inclusion target such as engaging a commissioner in schools that are failing to meet standards,” Mr Gibson said.
Paul Gibson met last week with the National Director of Special Education Services, Dr David Wales and Strategic Policy Manager Bryan Coffey to discuss gaining more progress on improving inclusiveness in schools.