Australian Education Union (AEU) federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said the Federal Government’s own data collection process revealed a shortfall in funding for students with disability and it was time it kept its election promise and eased the disability funding crisis in schools.
“A report from the 2014 South Australian trial of the National Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) for students with disability showed that 16.3% of Australian students were classified as having a disability, learning difficulty or mental health condition – compared with just 5.3% getting funded disability support at school,” Haythorpe said.
A nationwide trial is being conducted to determine the real needs of schools for educating students with disability and will be used to determine funding from 2016.
The AEU says preliminary reports have revealed “the true crisis” in disability education.
“The majority of students with disability need funded support to able to participate fully at school, and this research shows that too many are missing out,” Haythorpe said.
“The problem is far bigger than recognised by our current funding system, and we will need urgent reforms and an increase in funding if we are to properly educate every child with disability.”
The AEU’s State of Our Schools (SOS) survey found that over 80% of principals shift funds from other parts of their budget to educate students with disability. Haythorpe said schools have been struggling to provide a quality education for students with disability due to a lack of funding.
“Students with disability need in-class support, equipment and individual learning plans to achieve, but this requires funding,” Haythorpe said.
“It is a national shame that students with disability are being denied the chance to participate fully in schools and achieve their potential due to a lack of support.”
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics have shown that at least 100,000 students with disability are without funding, however the AEU believes the figure is likely to be even higher.
“It is time the Abbott Government took action and kept its election promise to institute a full disability loading, not just indexation of the inadequate existing loading.
“Not only has Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, repeatedly denied the systemic underfunding of disability in schools, he has failed to make public the preliminary reports from the NCCD.
“He not only needs to admit that there is a problem, but he needs to tell us how he will work with the States and Territories to fix it,” Haythorpe said.