A Wellington school's struggle to fund its special needs programmeby Jai Breitnauer
Berhampore School would rather fund their special needs students than repaint their buildings.
“When I took over as principal, we had a lot of refugee families, and our community wanted to welcome them,” he says. “We worked hard to make sure we understood them, rather than just tell them how it was. We wanted to really connect them to the community.
“One day, a Somali mum walked in with a child with autism. We thought, why stop at refugees? The same conditions apply to a child with autism, or any other need.
“We have put in place differences in the classroom to enable all children to get along. For example, we have calm cubes, a safe place where a child feeling anxious can retreat to without having to leave the classroom. We work closely with families to find out and plan for what their child needs. It’s essential a school values the opinions of families – most parents arrive with a PhD in their child. We also have 23 teaching assistants for 300 children and a dedicated special needs co-ordinator, and we resource our classrooms according to the need.
“This all comes at a cost. For example, for every child with an ORS [Ongoing Resourcing Scheme] contribution, we have to top it up by about $7000. We have nine ORS students, so we have to find $53,000 a year. It comes from our operational funding. I often say I have no problem funding inclusive education, my problem is that once I’ve spent what I need to spend, I don’t have enough money for my buildings. That’s not the ministry’s approach. Their approach is that you look after the buildings first and then worry about what you can do for the kids. That shows an upside-down values system.
“The MoE have come here telling us we’re doing it wrong, but my board of trustees backs me 100%. That’s very important. Our community has a strong value around inclusion. We believe no one should miss out. But not all schools feel they can cope with children with additional needs, and a lack of support and funding from the MoE incentivises exclusion. What the MoE needs to do is change that attitude by incentivising inclusion, instead.”
This was published in the March 2018 issue of North & South.
Bryson DeChambeau has put himself in the top spot for the FedEx Cup finale at East Lake with a single-minded drive to simplify the game.Read more
Housing NZ has committed to compensating hundreds of tenants it evicted from state homes based on bogus meth testing, some of whom were made homeless.Read more
An extra night of Shortland Street won’t change the psycho storylines or the mad characters who act without consequence.Read more
As the Government gropes all over in reports and reviews for answers, it looks like GE grass may not be one.Read more
A comedy special with the Funny Girls sheds light on New Zealand women’s historic winning of the right to vote.Read more
Diets low in fodmaps are a saviour for people with irritable bowel syndrome and endometriosis, helping to manage the gastrointestinal symptoms.Read more
Copies of former minister Clare Curran's personal emails to tech entrepreneur Derek Handley are expected to be released to Parliament this afternoon.Read more