I went way outside my comfort zone yesterday and talked to a journalist for the first time about my thoughts on the Every Student Every School policy. You read my previous thoughts on this policy here and here.
This afternoon a photographer will be coming to my son’s school to take a photo to accompany the story. I’ve never been so nervous in my life.
I hope the journalist understood what I was trying to say. I hope she focuses on the important parts of the issue. I hope she doesn’t sensationalize the truth.
I just want people to know how this policy will affect every single student in every single public school in NSW.
Even if your child doesn’t have a special need, the changes to this policy will be felt in the reduction of staff in each classroom. Most existing support teachers will be replaced by a single specialist teacher assigned to each school, leaving classroom teachers to solely meet all student needs.
I want people to understand how unfair it is to deny kids with so called lower level special needs access to individual funding based on their own individual circumstances.
I want people to be aware that my child’s diagnosed needs will have to fit within a set formula to be met. That the 1:100 ratio for autism set by the department means that technically only 2 students will be catered for at our school of 200. Two of MY kids are on the spectrum and I know of several others at our school so we have bucked the trend already – bad luck to us, I guess.
Any extra funding will be distributed based on a Student Learning Need Index, based on the number of students in a school falling in the lowest 10% of numeracy and literacy testing in NAPLAN.
My son isn’t old enough to sit NAPLAN so his chances of getting funding depends on the performance of others. And I have heard a number of reports that students on the spectrum were encouraged to skip NAPLAN testing this year to improve schools’ chances of performance.
Will all kids be included in NAPLAN testing from now on to improve a school’s chance of receiving more special needs funding?
I want to make people aware of the total lack of consultation and the lack of transparency in relation to this policy.
I want people to know how little information is out there about the practical application of this policy. That the $6000 threshold that most schools are quoting to be eligible to retain individual funding is not recorded anywhere that is publicly accessible.
But most of all I want people to know that my son is worth educating. That he and others like him deserve the chance to learn and to be supported.
Doesn’t any child, regardless of ability or disability, deserve that chance?
The NSW Department of Education and Communities talks about this policy improving education outcomes for all students, particularly those with special needs.
I fail to see how this policy will do that. I hope I am proved wrong – I really do.
But from what I can see my son and others like him will be disadvantaged and will no longer receive the basic level support needed to remain in a mainstream classroom.