Access to Education for Children with Disabilities ABC News segment
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Access to Education for Children with Disabilities ABC News segment

A parliamentary comittee has heard children
with disabilities are being repeatedly suspended denied support or even restrained at South
Australian schools struggling to cater to their needs. but the education department
says there’s ample support resources and doesn’t know why they aren’t reaching schools. Tracy
Smoker never expected she’d be homeschooling her 3 boys who all have autism. Okay do you
want to put that in your spelling book for me. The reason why I made the choice that
I have is so they did get a proper education. Her eldest son Vaughn struggled in 3 different
mainstream schools, behavioural issues saw him repeatedly suspended, sometimes he had
a support worker but once he’d showed signs of improvement that was cut and his progress
went backwards. The Government would take my children away if I didn’t do my job properly,
and sometimes I feel that the education department hasn’t done theirs. There are nearly 14,000
children with disabilities in South Australian schools, 80% are in mainstream classes, schools
can’t refuse enrolment for children with special needs if adjustments can be made.
Support is provided through the education department. I don’t think there is a lack
of resources, what we would say is if a school needs it they can apply and we usually fund
everything. But a parliamentary committee looking at access to education for children with disabilities
has heard about a system struggling to cope. We do hear stories of students being unneccessarily
and inappropriately restrained the fact is that all sides of parliament have recognised
that there are issues that need investigating and need improving upon. We’re trying to support
schools to do the right thing, and some do an excellent job. 12 year old Max Price has
Cerebral Palsy, despite physical limitations his mind is sharp, and his parent’s didn’t
think he was suited to a special school. Alright we better head home. They spoke to 12 different
schools about enrolling him, the responses varied considerably, from supportive to demoralising.
One principal suggested there’s places children of his kind was the phrase that was delivered
to us. Max is now in year 7 and thriving in a public school, he has a support worker and
an adapted curriculum, but his family has forked out thousands of dollars for specialised classroom
equipment. We were told we could have access to all of that sort of equipment provided
he’s in a special school. The committee has also heard despite good intentions the states
teachers are struggling to support special needs students, especially as class sizes
grow and more than half of them don’t feel that they’ve had the right training. If something
in the process isn’t working well, we are really interested that’s why we are talking
to parents about whats getting in the way. The benefit will be not just celebrating diversity
and difference but thinking outside the square being more productive in the way we do things.
The committees reccomendations are expected later this month. Lauren Waldhuter ABC news Adelaide.

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