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Special needs school funding plea


June 5, 2018 by admin

School support: Henry Grossek with Berwick Lodge pupils Kailan, Luke, Jared and Aleacia. Picture: Rob CarewWHAT DO YOU THINK? SCROLL TO BELOW THIS STORY TO POST A COMMENT.

A BERWICK school doubts it will ever receive all the money it requires to help its pupils with special needs unless there is a shake-up of the state funding system.

Berwick Lodge Primary School principal Henry Grossek said funding for his school needed to be 30-50 per cent higher and the number of children in the community with disabilities or conditions such as autism was growing.

“I don’t want to sound alarmist, but we are at the edge of a crisis in meeting the needs of kids with disabilities and impairments.”

He said state government standards for disability funding had risen over the past five years but this was a mostly a reflection of a desire to cap costs. “I think the process of tailoring the budget to the need is completely out of whack.”

About 20 of Berwick Lodge’s 650 pupils need some kind of disability support.

“Unless a child is severely disabled, some level of mixing with normal children is good for them and good for us.”

Mr Grossek said the time and effort involved in helping the school’s pupils with special needs could be out of proportion to their number. “It makes it hard for the teachers and for the pupils.”

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009 data show that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders more than doubled between 2003 and 2009 to an estimated 64,000 cases. Almost 75 per cent of the cases were aged between 5 and 18.

Research by Professor Barry Carpenter, an expert in special-needs education, has found advances in medical science have saved more premature children and children with congenital conditions, but these children are much more likely to develop an irreversible disability.

Last year, about 4400 Victorian students got ASD funding – not including those with ASD who were funded under a different category such as intellectual disability or severe behavioural disorder.

A Department of Education and Early Childhood Development spokeswoman said ASD language criteria ensured funding went to those with a demonstrated significant need.


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