Saturday, 17 October 2015

Accessing disability support in schools

Wealthy students are getting easier access to government disability funding, under a system families and speech therapists say caters only to the rich.
State school students with severe language disorders are migrating to private schools, where it is easier to secure language support due to a more lenient funding model.
Studies show 9 per cent of students have language disorders – a condition that does not affect IQ, but makes it difficult to speak, read, write or understand language.

Less than 0.1 per cent of students in the state are eligible for funding for severe language disorder in public schools. 
This criteria is stricter than in Britain and the US, and is so extreme  that students who have trouble speaking in full sentences, and understanding basic oral language, have not been deemed eligible, speech pathologists said.
Families are paying extra money to move to the private school sector, where the commonwealth government funding criteria is less stringent.
They hope the funding would be used for an integration aide, tailored programs or speech therapy. The AEU says that the federal government had broken its promise to deliver a disability loading to schools this year, leaving schools without resources to provide speech therapists and in-class support.Students with language disorders were waiting for over 12 months to be assessed, and a further eight months to be funded if they were eligible.
The state government is reviewing the Students with Disabilities Program, and will focus on autism and dyslexia.
It did not invite a person with speech pathology expertise on its advisory panel, but an education department spokesman said the review would consider "supports for students with language disorders".
Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green said disability funding at independent schools was spent on professional development of teachers, extra resources in classrooms, and consultant specialists and experts.
It should be noted that the state system caters for the vast majority of students with disabilities in schools in Victoria and across Australia.

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