Contribution to learning support recognised

Issue: Volume 100, Number 8

Posted: 30 June 2021
Reference #: 1HAMeQ

Sally Jackson was among those recognised for their contribution to education in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Sally Jackson

Sally Jackson

Sally Jackson has been active in the disability sector for 52 years, a leader in the education system for 40 years, and an integral part of the Ministry of Education for
24 years. 

Sometimes known as ‘the Mother of Inclusion’, Sally has been honoured for her significant services to special education with appointment as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Recalling the moment that she found out about the honour, Sally says she still has a sense of being overwhelmed.  

“I was at a meeting searching unobtrusively on my phone for the minutes of the previous meeting when I noticed the DPMC Honours heading in my inbox.
I couldn’t resist, read it, and then had to pretend I was totally engaged in the meeting I was in. 

“I had such a mixed reaction to the news – ranging from disbelief, excitement, but most of all a sense of humbleness because this award is for my work, which I have loved and only been able to achieve with the contribution of so many others.”

Humbleness aside, Sally has led a career wholly deserving of such prestigious recognition. 

“The greatest win for me has been the shift in attitude towards children and young people who need extra support to learn,” she says. 

“We are moving away from thinking about ‘special’ and ‘others’ to thinking about ‘all’, acknowledging that all children and young people in our education system are capable learners and therefore working out what we have to do to make learning accessible for everybody.”

It takes a village

Reminiscing on her career and the key learnings, Sally is clear about the value of team work and collaboration. 

“Nothing can be achieved without working with others. I have had the benefit of working with great people in teams both small and large. 

“Every day in classrooms and early learning services across our country there are committed and passionate educators, teacher aides, specialists and wider teams who are excited about the work they are doing to ensure better outcomes for all children and young people. We need to celebrate their successes.

“Ehara tāku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini – my strength does not come from me alone but also from others,” she says.

Sally strongly believes that education is the key to changing the trajectory of people’s lives.

“I care a lot about social justice and equity opportunities for all.

“Disability is not really a choice people make and so we need to build a society that makes it as straightforward as possible for those who need additional support to get that support.” 

The key principles and components of Special Education 2000 still endure, says Sally. 

“The Special Education Grant, the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS), the Severe Behaviour Initiative, the Communications Initiative, Regional Health Schools, Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) and Early Intervention were all part of the Special Education 2000 resourcing framework.  

“Some have changed, some have grown, but all are still in place with a focus on providing early learning services and schools with support to include all learners with disabilities and learning support needs.”

Mother of Inclusion 

“From time to time, I have been called ‘the Mother of Inclusion’ (more latterly ‘the Grandmother of Inclusion’),” says Sally. “I feel proud to think I have been a nurturer of others in providing better education opportunities for those children and young people with learning support needs.” 

On reflection, Sally feels most proud of the work where she has been able to support others to achieve. 

“For the majority of my 24 years in the Ministry of Education, I managed teams of committed, passionate, intelligent and diverse thinkers who have worked together and with others to contribute to getting better outcomes for those learners with disabilities and learning support needs.”

While much progress has been made since 1989 and there are some outstanding examples of success across New Zealand, Sally remarks that there are still some inequities and resourcing challenges and a lack of confidence among some educators that create barriers to a fully inclusive education system.   

“However, in working together with others, sharing knowledge, skills and attitudes, ongoing progress to building more equitable opportunities and outcomes for those children and young people who require additional support to learn will be made.” 

Honours list recognises education excellence

CNZM: To be Companions of the said Order

  • Dr Evelyn Imelda Coxon –  for services to Pacific and tertiary education
  • Professor Angus Hikairo Macfarlane – for services to education, psychology and Māori
  • John Webster Te Kapene Thatcher – for services to Māori and education

ONZM: To be Officers of the said Order

  • Murray Ian Bain – for services to tertiary education and digital learning
  • Susan Jean Hassall, JP – for services to education

MNZM: To be Members of the said Order

  • David John Appleyard – for services to education
  • Margaret Ann Dodds – for services to special education
  • Miles Denis Ellery – for services to youth, education and the community
  • Iqbal Manzoor Haque – for services to education governance
  • Siale Katoa Latu Pasa Faitotonu, JP – for services to Pacific education
  • Bruce Henry Hart – for services to education
  • Sally Anne Jackson, JP – for services to special education
  • Colleen Janice Lyons – for services to netball and education
  • Helen Theresa Cecilia Varney – for services to education, particularly Pacific education

The Queen’s Service Medal

  • Suzanne Blakely – for services to refugees and ESOL education
  • Heather Dorothy Lear – for services to inclusive education

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 12:35 pm, 30 June 2021

Get new listings like these in your email
Set up email alerts