Special Needs Education

(1pm 16 February, Theatrette Parliament House Sydney)

Firstly, I acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, traditional custodians of this land, and pay my respects to their Elders.

I strongly support your campaign for proper resources in public schools to ensure that students with a disability or additional needs get the help they need to get a good start in life. As a former teacher, I know how classrooms work and the struggle to meet all students' needs.

The Commonwealth Government announced an extra $48 million in funding to NSW from 2014 in recognition of the high level of unmet need and the value of these programs.

While the Premier accepted these funds, I know you fear the State Government will cut its funding and support.

I've heard from parents, aides and teachers that the School Learning Support Program trialled in the Illawarra and South East Region will replace experienced, hands-on staff with a video trained behaviour specialist to work across schools.

You are fearful that the result will be the loss of teachers' aides, outreach staff, individual programs, and funding that worked for many people.

I've asked the Minister for Education to expand the resources for students who need extra help, which is the fair thing to do, the right thing to do. The Government should not use the extra federal money to cut State funding.

Early and intensive intervention can impact on educational outcomes and on students' future life prospects. All students should be part of mainstream schools and the Government must provide the help they need to participate, learn and prosper.

There are always pressures to cut budgets, and all Governments want to put money into their priorities.

You will need to be loud and strong to have your concerns heard and make sure the Government provides the necessary funding and individualised and practical help early enough to have real impact.