National’s prioritises Education needs
More craziness from National…
In a repeat of National’s cost-cutting and closure of critical social services in the late 1990s, Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced the closure of two very special; much needed, schools – Christchurch’s McKenzie Residential School and Nelson’s Salisbury Residential School,
These are schools which provide special education for children with severe behavioural difficulties. These are safe environments for children, who, because of their special needs, would find it difficult – impossible – to cope in mainstream schools.
Despite most of 365 submissions opposing the closure of McKenzie Residential School, the decision to close McKenzie and Salibury proceeded.
Which begs the question as to why bother making submissions when National rarely listens to a community.
As the decisionswere announced, Parata stated,
“At the very heart of this difficult decision lies the opportunity to provide services and support for more children with complex needs in their local community.
The net result will be better support for more students and keeping communities together. I am satisfied that this combination of services will make sufficient provision for all children with special education needs both locally and nationally.
Our priority now is to ensure that every student currently enrolled in one of the schools closing has an individualised transition plan developed with them, their parents or caregivers, the residential school and their local school. That plan could be to support the student returning home and going to their local school with the wrap around service or to transfer to one of the residential special schools staying open.”
“We can link local services with the remaining residential provision to achieve a more personalised and high quality approach for children and their families.“
All of which is meaningless drivel; platitudes to attempt to quell growing unease within two communities that they are losing two vital services from their areas.
National is promising something it calls a “wrap-around” service for children who are moved from McKenzie and Salisbury, to mainstream schools.
This blogger holds grave concerns for any such promises of such a service.
In the 1990s, as Psychiatric Institutions closed, and their patients emptied into communities up and down the country, the-then Bolger-led National government promised extensive funding for support services for psychiatric patients.
That funding was nowhere as much as was promised or required, and ex-psych patients ended up living in public toilets; on the streets; and mostly with very little vital support.
Some ended up committing violent crimes.
National has a track record in closing down social services; making grandiose promises for funding alternative services – and failing to deliver.
This blogger predicts precisely the same will happen in this situation. Ex-students of Salisbury and McKenzie will not recieve the support they require; they will end up being “excluded” (modern jargon for expelled) from mainstream schools; and will end up living at home with their parents.
This is utterly predictable.
Only a fool would believe liars such as the Education Minister and others within the National “government”. None of them can be trusted.
National carried out similar policies in the late 1990s, which resulted in cutbacks to health, public housing, education, police, and other essential state services. All carried out in the name of “efficiency”.
The result was a country in turmloil; National being thrown out of office on 27 November 1999, losing five seats, whilst Labour picked up twelve, and subsequently formed a new government. (Source)
One questions why two perfectly acceptable; well-run; community-based schools are facing closure? Why is National then planning (?) to spend heavily (?) on support workers for each child integrated into a mainstream school? What is the point of disrupting the lives of so many young, vulnerable children?
Is National so desperate to save money to balance it’s precious books that it is willing to take away a valuable resource for children with severe behavioural difficulties?
The mind of a government minister that can contemplate such a destructive act is perhaps more disturbed than the children at the centre of this tragedy.
Salisbury School is considering legal action – which this blogger supports 100%. If the only persuasion that National will listen to is a Court injunction, then so be it.
In a previous blogpost – Once upon a time there was a solo-mum – I outlined the true-story of solo-mum, Sally*, and her sons, Wayne*, and Zack*. (* not real names)
I referred to Sally’s younger son, Zack (11),
“During her studies and part time job, Sally raised her two sons – one of whom was increasingly “challenging” with Aspergers and ADHD.
(This blogger can confirm that young Zack – whilst a bright, personable child – can also be “a handful”, and was effectively thrown out of his previous school for “disruptive behaviour”.)”
Since that blogpost was written in March of this year, young Zack was “excluded” (ie, expelled) from his second school.
Zack’s ADHD, Aspergers, and Oppositional Defiance Disorder makes him very hard to handle within a mainstream school. He requires a full-time, one-on-one, support-teacher to keep him steady in class and to direct his learning.
Without that support, Zack becomes confrontational; difficult to communicate with; and reacts badly to other children’s behaviour.
Zack was receiving only 3 or 4 hours per school day (six hours) assistance from a support-teacher.
The remaining hours, he was left without support and the class teacher had to handle his unpredictable behaviour, which could disrupt class proceedings, as well as 30 other children.
One day, in a fit of anger (because another stuudent was making a noise that Zack’s Aspergers-ADHD mind could not cope with) he ran off and left the school. Teachers were called out to search the immediate neighbourhood for him. Police were called and scoured the area.
Zack was found, collecting sticks of the road, and delivered back into the care of Sally’s grandmother…
This is one instance where “wraparound” care does not exist – and no school will accept Zack without it. But without funding from the Ministry of Education, Zack will not have that so-called “wraparound” support.
It should be noted that whilst Zack has challenging, disruptive behaviours, he has a high-functioning form on the autism spectrum (very bright).
The children at Salisbury and McKenzie would have behaviours far more challenging, and far more potentially disruptive, in a mainstream class.
Update; Zack starts at a new school next week. His attendance will be determined by Ministry funding and time allocated for a support-teacher. Adequate funding for a full day is by no means guaranteed, and Sally remain anxious on this matter.
Sally has been told in no uncertain terms; without a full-time teacher-support, his new school will limit his attendance within class.
This, folks, supposedly constitutes National’s idea of a “wraparound” service.
We should be very worried about assurances from Minister Parata.
Even as National closes down two schools for our most vulnerable, behaviourally-difficult children, we hear this news,
So evidently, closing down schools for special needs children is a necessity.
Preserving, funding, and giving full State support for one of the most elite schools in this country – is National’s top priority?
Have we got that?
Meanwhile, one of the special-needs schools made this critical point to Minister Parata,
” Salisbury School Board of Trustees chairperson Helen McDonnell said the school is concerned about the risks of the female students because they could be forced to move to the co-educational Halswell School 400 kilometres away.
“Parents are right to be anxious about their daughters’ safety at Halswell because a co-educational environment is inappropriate, unreasonable and potentially dangerous.
“[It] denies them the chance to get the specialist education they deserve and which their future depends on”.”
The female students at Salisbury school, whilst having the bodies of an eleven year old – have the minds of a 5 year old. And they will be placed in a co-ed situation with boys.
I think we can all understand where this is heading…
National – never underestimate their ability to totally screw-up a perfectly viable situation, and cause utter chaos and misery for those involved.
Elite Wanganui Collegiate School, on the other hand, has no such problems.
The Press: McKenzie Residential School to close (31 October 2012)
TVNZ: School says closure could put special students at risk (31 October 2012)
Radio NZ: Special needs school board considers legal fight (1 November 2012)
Radio NZ: Listen to item on Morning Report
The Press: Residential pupils sent to mainstream schools (2 November 2012)
NZ Herald: Wanganui Collegiate to be integrated (2 November 2012)
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