The Territory Labor Government has made unprecedented investment in support for students with additional needs, to help every Territory child reach their full potential.
Last year, the government announced the Framework for Inclusion 2019-2029 to provide high quality, inclusive education for students with additional needs and to help build the capacity of teachers and support staff in inclusive practice in mainstream schools.
Since that time, the Territory Labor Government has invested $73.4 million to deliver targeted support for students with additional needs in mainstream schools and an additional $20.3 million to employ advisors, school counsellors, speech therapists and other staff to support student learning.
In early 2020, the government also announced additional once-off funding of $5.2 million for inclusive infrastructure, the Building for Inclusion program, which has enabled schools to upgrade teaching and learning areas to better support students with additional needs.
The Building for Inclusion funding has given schools across the Territory the power to choose the infrastructure upgrades most needed by their students.
Twelve schools chose to upgrade special annexes and autism units, and a further five chose to upgrade classroom acoustics to better support students with hearing difficulties.
Other schools chose projects they deemed most in need such as ramp installations, upgrades to toilet blocks to make them more accessible, and soundproofing.
The Framework for Inclusion 2019-2029 will roll out in three phases: 2019-22, 2023-25 and 2026-28.
The three identified priorities to enhance support for students with additional needs include:
- Shared decision making between schools, children and their families
- Professional development to build inclusive practice in mainstream school staff
- Evidence-led systems that help schools better integrate learning for students
As noted by Minister for Education, Selena Uibo.
“Putting all children at the centre of our decision making has been a guiding principle of the Territory Labor Government for the past four years.
“Inclusive education is about designing our teaching and learning programs so that all students, regardless of their background, ability or personal circumstances, can participate and learn.
“We have put in place a framework that emphasises shared decision-making with families and other agencies, along with upskilling teachers, support staff and school leaders to respond effectively to children with additional needs.
“Importantly, we are also providing appropriate investment to ensure it delivers for our kids and their families.
“By investing in support for students with additional needs, we are helping to break down barriers and giving every child the equal opportunity they deserve to engage in their learning and achieve a bright future.”