Coalition says data will be used to ensure extra money for students with disability under Gonski 2.0 plan
There are one quarter of a million more students with a disability in Australian schools than are currently receiving extra funding for support, new national statistics have shown.
The 2016 results of the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on Disability showed 18.1% or 685,911 students received an educational adjustment due to disability.
Some 5.7% already get targeted support but a further total of 12.4% of students need extensive, substantial or supplementary educational support due to disability that do not currently receive it.
According to the Australian Education Union’s analysis of the data, that means 469,000 students have a disability or learning difficulty while in 2015 schools only received funding to support 200,000 students with a disability, as shown by the Productivity Commission’s review of government services.
The education minister, Simon Birmingham, has responded to the data by noting it will be used to provide extra money for every student with a disability over the 10 years of the Gonski 2.0 schools funding plan.
The survey found that 8% of students nationwide needed supplementary adjustment to learning, such as course materials in accessible forms, separate supervision or extra time to complete assessment tasks.
Some 2.9% required substantial adjustment for learning, such as “considerable adult assistance”, and 1.5% needed extensive adjustments, meaning those students who had complex needs such as treatment of medical conditions, communications systems and mobility issues.
Public schools had higher proportions of both those that needed substantial adjustments (3.3%) and extensive adjustments (1.9%).
In December, Birmingham questioned the quality of last year’s data due to discrepancies between the states but the new 2016 figures are in line with 2015 data showing a total of 12.5% needed extensive, substantial or supplementary support.
The AEU’s federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said the figures “confirmed the crisis in disability education in Australia”.
“We cannot continue with a system that leaves behind some of our most vulnerable students and fails to give them the help they need to reach their potential,” she said. “The Coalition promised to fund schools to support all students with disability from 2015 and it hasn’t happened.
“The question now is what action will education minister Simon Birmingham take to deal with this chronic underfunding?”
On Thursday, Birmingham said that collection of nationally consistent disability data had taken years of work with the states and as part of the federal reforms that data will now be used to make funding decisions.
The education minister said that data collection had improved and KPMG had found it was “broadly reliable”.
He said the government planned to “fully deliver on implementation of the [nationally consistent collection of disability data] process”, meaning that in the future every student identified would receive a disability loading.
“And, importantly, what that will do is ensure that support for students with a disability is geared most heavily to those students who need the greatest adjustment and assistance in the classroom.”
Labor’s shadow assistant minister for schools, Andrew Giles, called on the government to “urgently release the details of the new loading – including the amounts payable at each level of adjustment, and how much each state and system will receive compared to current provisions”.
Giles accused Birmingham of being “all talk and no action” in providing disability funding. “It’s just not good enough that today every Australian doesn’t count when it comes to schooling.”Read more at theguardian.com