All students to benefit from new learning support model

Issue: Volume 96, Number 17

Posted: 25 September 2017
Reference #: 1H9exE

All learning support students will benefit over time from the trialling of more accessible approaches to learning support in 30 Communities of Learning. This is regardless of whether their school or early learning service is in a Community or not.

Aspects of the new approaches have been trialled in 22 improvement projects throughout New Zealand and in three Communities of Learning in the Bay of Plenty. Katrina Casey, the Ministry of Education’s Deputy Secretary of Sector Enablement and Support, says, “Many of those receiving learning support are already benefiting from the new approaches.

For example:

  • In Franklin, early learning services are reporting earlier access to learning support services for their children. An early childhood teacher now responds to requests for support from all early learning services in the local improvement project, enabling more timely and flexible responses.
  • In Bay of Plenty, when additional needs are identified, a key worker becomes the one point of contact for the student, their family, teachers and other specialists.
  • In Taranaki, Ministry teams now work in closer partnership with schools, early learning services and Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) to agree on support needs together and to better match services to needs.
  • In the Otumoetai Community of Learning, the learning support facilitator established a connection with the Bay of Plenty District Health Board. This resulted in the board providing funding for a dedicated child and adolescent mental health practitioner to support the community with its mental health priorities.

“In time, this new way of working will be rolled out to all students with learning support needs, both inside and outside our Communities of Learning. But first, we want to ensure we have got the proposed new approaches right,” says Ms Casey.

“We are extending the trials because we need to know more about how these approaches will work for more children and young people, and for their parents, family and whānau.”

“During the trial extension, we will continue to work with the education sector to improve  access to more flexible and faster support for children and young people in schools and early learning services not in a Community of Learning,”

Learning support services for children and young people currently receiving them will continue through the extended trial period and beyond, says Ms Casey. She points out that this is not about there being only one way to support children and young people, but is an additional way that recognises most of
New Zealand’s children and young people are now undertaking their learning journey as part of an education pathway – a community of learning.

“All the estimated 100,000 children and young people who have a learning need now  will continue to receive support regardless of whether they are in a Community of Learning or not. And access to higher levels supports, such as the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS), the Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS) and High Health Needs for students will continue to be managed nationally as they are now.”

Ms Casey says that Communities of Learning are an ideal setting to further test the new approaches.

“Two-thirds of our students are in them and the extended trials will involve around 7,000 children and young people with learning support needs, out of 70,000 students in these communities. Around 1,400 learners were involved in the Bay of Plenty trials.

“These Communities of Learning will be in different parts of the country and include a range of schooling types, such as primary, secondary, intermediate and area schools, as well as early learning services. This means we can further test all aspects of the new approaches in a wider range of settings.

“The presence of early learning services in many communities also allows us to further trial how learning support resources can best follow children as they move from early learning into schooling.”

The trial extension is the next phase of the Learning Support Update, which aims to ensure that all learners requiring learning support receive the right services, at the right time, in order to fulfil their educational potential.

The key elements of the new approach to learning support to be trialled further during 2017–18 include:

  • a facilitator in each Community of Learning to provide a point of contact and coordination for learning supports to children and young people
  • a single point of contact for each learner receiving individualised learning support services
  • one plan for each learner to better join up support services and tailor them to the needs of the individual child
  • getting early learning services, the Ministry, and schools together to support better transitions for children moving from early learning into school
  • more flexibility to allow local specialists and decision-makers to use their judgement about whether a child or young person should have access to low or moderate supports rather than applying inflexible criteria.

The Ministry’s region-based directors of education will now work with their local Communities of Learning to establish which will be involved in the trial extension. The Ministry will report back to Cabinet in mid-2018 on the results and on possible next steps for wider implementation.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 25 September 2017

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