Students with disability review – an initial reaction
The provision of education for all students is a policy challenge for governments across the globe.
The independent "Review of education for students with disability in Queensland state schools" (Deloitte Access Economics, 2017), commissioned by the state government in mid-2016, was designed to examine “the extent to which current policy settings effectively support students with disability reaching their educational potential”.
The final report of the review, an almost 200-page document released in February, is a comprehensive analysis of the available data, submissions from a wide cross-section of stakeholders and subsequent recommendations for government response. The report does not purport to provide a new system for education for all students but rather the basis for the development of such a system.
The QTU was a major stakeholder contributor to the review. Two written submissions, and subsequent oral presentations, were made by the QTU on behalf of members, following consultation with those engaged in education for students with disability.
An initial analysis of the report reveals that there is a great deal of good work being done by teachers, principals and education support workers, in partnership with parents and the community, to support students with disability.
The review’s framework focuses on three broad areas: policy, practice and resourcing.
The policy considerations can best be summed up with a call for a “clear and ambitious vision” for the education of all students and a complementary plan for action. One note of caution from the review is the need to avoid creating an disconnected policy statement for students with disability. Instead, it promotes the development of a system-wide culture of inclusion in schools as a higher priority for the Department of Education and Training.
The practice considerations of the review are very complex and range across governance and leadership, human resources, enrolments, parent engagement, professional development, curriculum and pedagogy, student behaviour (including restrictive practices), pre-service teacher training and access to specialist resources. These issues and the resultant recommendations require detailed analysis in light of the government’s response.
While the review makes several recommendations on resourcing that reinforce the findings of the earlier Gonski report on school funding (needs-based funding, predictable resourcing levels), the QTU is concerned that the review falls short of making specific recommendations with respect to resourcing levels. The review instead opts for generic recommendations that recognise rapidly increasing enrolments of students with disability and the failure of resourcing to keep pace with that growth. The QTU has a clear expectation that the state government’s response to the review must be supported by enhanced budget allocations for students with disability. However, the Abbott and Turnbull governments have failed to deliver a resource loading for students with disability, recommended by Gonski and promised by all political parties in the 2013 federal election, which would make this outcome more deliverable.
The QTU will provide further reports on the outcomes of the review and the state government’s response in due course.
A copy of the review is available at: http://education.qld.gov.au/schools/disability/docs/disability-review-report.pdf
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 3, 14 April 2017, p8
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