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Special Education Needs

Special education needs

All students have unique educational needs, but some students’ needs may require extra attention from school. This could include students with disabilities, mental health issues, or students with particularly problematic behaviour, or even particularly gifted students who need additional educational challenges.

This section expands on students with special education needs.

What is special education?

Special education supports students with special education needs. Special needs come in many forms, common special needs include physical disabilities, learning disabilities, emotional and behaviour disorders, developmental disabilities and communication disorders.

Generally, students with special needs require additional educational support to gain the most of their education.

I have special education needs. What kind of extra help can I get from my school?

If you have severe special education needs, you might be able to get some extra individual funding from the government which needs to be separately applied for by your school. Your parents should talk to the school about whether you might be eligible for the extra funding.

Some kinds of help you might be able to get are:

Otherwise, you may be covered by a general funding to schools called the Special Education Grant.

What is the Special Education Grant (SEG)?

The Special Education Grant (SEG) is a fixed funding provided to schools by the government, to provide extra help and resources for students with mild to medium special education needs (as opposed to individually tagged funding). This could be for students who have physical difficulties, like moving, seeing or hearing, behaviour problems, difficulty learning or difficulty communicating. Each school gets a fixed amount based on the student population and the decile of the school. Students with severe needs may qualify for individualised funding.

Each school can choose how they spend their SEG.

Can I get an Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding?

If you need a lot of extra support to learn properly due to special needs, you might be able to access the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding. This can be quite hard to get because you have to meet the specific criteria set by the Ministry of Education.

To be eligible for ORS, you and your school will have to apply to the Ministry, and the Ministry will assess whether you qualify. If you apply and are turned down, you can ask for review. If the review is unsuccessful after 2 or more reviews, you can request an appeal, but there are limitations as to when you can reapply if you’re unsuccessful.

If the Ministry of Education decides that you’re eligible, they’ll provide money to your school to help your education.

What is an Individual Education Plan (IEP)?

Students with special needs often need different strategies to help them learn. The IEP spells out your learning needs, the plan, and how progress will be measured.

The IEP should include long-term education goals, strategies used to help you learn properly, whether you need any specialists, and what other people in your life can do to help. Your parents, the school and any specialists involved should meet to review your IEP every 6 months.

If you’re getting ORS, you must have an IEP. If you think that an IEP might help, your parents should talk to the school about making one.

Can the school discriminate against me because of my disability?

No, it is against the law for a school to discriminate against you because of a disability. This doesn’t just mean physical disability, it also includes psychiatric illness, intellectual and psychological disability and other disabilities. Examples include ADHD, ODD, dyslexia, and autism to name a few.

This means that a school isn’t allowed to refuse to enrol you simply because of your disability, or force conditions on you like making you come to school for only some of the time.

As well as not actively doing anything to discriminate against you, the school also has to do whatever is reasonably practical to help you get the same benefit from your education as other students.

I have special education needs. Do I have to follow the same school rules like all the other students?

Yes, the same school rules apply to all students, and everyone must obey the rules. However, the school must take into account who you are and how that has contributed to what happened. When schools make disciplinary decisions, it should be based on all of the facts, in their proper context and allowances should be made for individual circumstances.

The most serious kind of discipline is kicking you out of school. The school can generally do this for misbehaviour you intended. If the Principal or the Board of Trustees are thinking about kicking you out, whether temporarily or permanently, they have to have your disability in mind when making the decision.

Where can I get help with my special education needs?

There are lots of different organisations that might be able to give you extra support:

You can also call YouthLaw for problems with your school.

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