Government backflips on cuts to teachers who support students with disabilities

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

A group of specialised teachers who support students with disabilities at state schools will get to keep their jobs, Education Minister Natalie Hutchins told parents on Tuesday, after news of the job cuts sparked public backlash.

The Education Department announced last month that it would cut 325 full-time equivalent jobs, including 85 from its decades-old visiting teacher service, which provides disabled students with one-on-one support in state schools.

Deborah Clarke was worried that without the visiting teachers, her son Christopher would need to change schools.

The cuts were going to reduce the program’s 117 teachers by 85. The remaining 32 teachers all worked with vision-impaired and deaf students, leaving students with other disabilities without assistance.

Hutchins told parents that reversing the decision was the result of the consultation process and that the visiting teachers would continue as part of a $1.6 billion disability inclusion program which will roll out over five years.

Hadfield mother Deborah Clarke had been worried her 15-year-old son, Christopher, would not be able to continue at his Glenroy high school without his specialised visiting teacher. Christopher has triplegic cerebral palsy, complex partial focal epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Clarke said that the visiting teacher provided support and options for teachers to ensure Christopher could engage in a full education.

She said it was a relief the minister had listened to parents, who had been stressed since the job cuts were announced.

“It’s more stress on top of stress that we already have,” Clarke said.

The visiting teacher at Christopher’s school was showing other teachers there different strategies for working with students with disabilities, she said.

“Without her input, I don’t think he would be at a mainstream school. He doesn’t want to go to a specialist school. It’s just not the right fit.”

Karen Dimmock, CEO of the Association for Children with a Disability, was one of 27 organisation heads who wrote an open letter to Hutchins last week asking her to continue the visiting teacher program.

The letter said the proposed cuts were in stark contradiction to the government’s election and budget commitments to better support students with disabilities.

“I’ve spoken to dozens and dozens of parents and some students, and they’re just desperately worried about their child’s education,” Dimmock said on Tuesday morning, before the minister announced the jobs would be saved.

“Children with disability absolutely deserve the same participation as other children do.”

More to come.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article