Thursday, 21 January 2016

My School website and disability education

I don't  actually agree with this. I don't think parents should just zip around the My School website looking for schools that SAY they are inclusive. Children should by and large go to their local school. Those schools should be set up to support children with special needs. Schools that have no problems attracting enrolments shouldn't be able to 'opt out' of taking on students with disabilities by saying that they can't cater for them.

The MySchool website will soon include information showing the level of disability inclusion at schools around Australia, with every state and territory education minister in agreement.

Fairfax Media can reveal that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, the body responsible for the website, has been in talks for "months" to implement the changes.

"All [state and territory] education ministers have agreed to it and we're working on all the paperwork as to how it may look at the moment," said Dr Stanley Rabinowitz, ACARA's head of assessment and reporting.

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education confirmed that the department was working with the Australian government to improve disability support, including the "implementation of the new national data collection and funding measures".The MySchool website was launched in 2008 to provide funding, enrolment, staffing and socioeconomic data for almost 10,000 schools nationwide.

It describes itself as "an additional information source for parents to make informed decisions about their child's education".

Children with a disability who do not meet the criteria for special school are entitled to be enrolled in their local public school. 

News of the changes come one week after a senate inquiry report's scathing assessment of schools' inclusion of children with disabilities, with the committee  "shocked and saddened" by its findings.

The report made 10 recommendations, among them a resolution for the federal government to work with states and territories to provide parents with information on schools' aptitude to include children with disabilities.

Speech Pathology Australia national president Gaenor Dixon said parents needed better access to such information than that which was currently available.

"Our worry is that this report documents some really serious concerns about education of kids with disabilities," she said. "[The availability of information] would also potentially support schools to ensure they're doing the right thing as well."

Ms Dixon added that any prospective disability inclusion measurements on the MySchool site would have to be qualitative in order to be helpful for both schools and parents.

"Some of that quantitative data will provide some information, but we need to make sure that it's not just [measurements like] kids attending school. It would be interesting to collect or publish info around the behaviour support the school uses," she said.

She also said that increases in funding were not enough, and that meaningful changes would need to be made for the sake of teachers, parents, and children with disabilities in schools.

"If we get hung up just on the funding aspect of it, we lose the opportunity to tackle the problem from a range of facets," she said. "Throwing more money alone would not necessarily make the changes that we need."

Previous reports have detailed how children with speech and language impediments are falling far behind their peers in NAPLAN testing, and were up to 17 times more likely to be excluded from NAPLAN exams altogether. age on Twitter | theageAustralia on Facebook

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