Order Paper and questions

Questions for oral answer

10. Vote Education—Students with Special Needs

[Volume:655;Page:4282]

10. Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) to the Associate Minister of Education: Which reductions within the appropriations in Vote Education in the 2009-10 Budget will adversely affect students with special needs, and what input did she have into those decisions?

Hon HEATHER ROY (Associate Minister of Education) Some year-by-year appropriations that affect a small group of students with special needs will not be continued. However, this has been more than offset by additional funding that is being provided in other relevant programmes for students with special education needs. I have been consulted as part of the process of developing these decisions.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Does the Minister support the cutting of support to the most physically disabled children; if so, why?

Hon HEATHER ROY: As I said in the answer to the primary question, a small group of students with special needs will not have their programmes continued, but this has been more than offset by the increase in funding provided to the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme.

Aaron Gilmore: What additional funding for students with special needs was allocated in the appropriations in Vote Education in the 2009-10 Budget?

Hon HEATHER ROY: From the 2009-10 financial year to the 2011-12 financial year this Government will spend an additional $51 million on the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme, and an additional $10.7 million on the School High Health Needs Fund. By contrast, the previous Labour-led Government only increased the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme funding by $14 million from the 2004-05 to the 2007-08 year. This increase was spent on alleviating cost pressures only, and did not fund one extra student.

David Garrett: What input does the Associate Minister currently have into ensuring that special education funding reaches as many students as possible?

Hon HEATHER ROY: As has already been shown in the 2009-10 Budget by an additional 1,100 Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme - funded students and an extra 250 special high-health needs - funded students, the Government is committed to ensuring there is more support for students with special education needs, and it has made special education a priority. That is why responsibility for special education has been delegated to me as an Associate Minister. The current way of supporting students with special education needs was developed in the mid-1990s. A lot has changed since then, and we need to be sure that the Government’s investment in special education is delivering positive outcomes for children and young people. I am responsible for conducting a review of special education. The review will examine how well special education is working and how it can be improved. The details of the review are being developed and will be publicly announced once they are finalised.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Does the Minister stand by her blog post last Sunday supporting Gifted Awareness Week; if so, why?

Hon HEATHER ROY: Yes, I do. It is Gifted Awareness Week, and I hope the member is going take advantage of the many activities that are going on throughout the country. However, that question is completely irrelevant to the primary question; it is outside the scope of the appropriation that the member asked about in his primary question.

Hon Trevor Mallard: In light of the Associate Minister’s answer giving her support to Gifted Awareness Week, did she support the 100 percent cut to teacher professional development in this area?

Hon HEATHER ROY: As I just outlined in the previous answer, this area is outside the scope of the appropriation that is being talked about.

Mr SPEAKER: In providing her previous answer the Associate Minister opened up a field of legitimate questioning. When a Minister gives an answer, members are able to question that answer. I invite the Associate Minister to reflect on that. I note the member who asked that question has not sought any further clarification of it, but I am alerting the Associate Minister to that point.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Shall I put the question again, so that the Associate Minister has another chance to answer it?

Mr SPEAKER: I will allow the member to do that.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Why, in light of her answer to my previous supplementary question, did the Associate Minister support a 100 percent cut to the teacher professional development budget for gifted and talented students?

Hon HEATHER ROY: I support the initiatives put forward by the Minister of Education, as an Associate Minister.

Te Ururoa Flavell: Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. How will the 2009-10 Budget address inter-sectoral relationships in order to ensure that the services provided to children with special needs are effective, rather than overlapping, fragmented, or responsive to a crisis situation?

Hon HEATHER ROY: As already stated, the Budget allowed for an extra 1,100 Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme - funded students, and an extra 250 students to be funded under another scheme. By contrast, the Labour-led Government did not increase the funding for any students. The review that I talked about in an earlier answer will also address these questions. It gives us an opportunity to look at the most effective way to allocate special education funding in the future.

Te Ururoa Flavell: What funding is provided to enable the families of children with special needs to be able to support their children’s experiences at school?

Hon HEATHER ROY: In the 2009-10 Budget, the Government announced an additional $51 million would be spent on Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Scheme - funded students. That allows an extra 1,100 students to be funded. An extra $10.7 million will go to the School High Health Needs Fund. That will fund an extra 250 students.