An inquiry into school resources for special needs children - what will be the outcome?

IT is no secret that teachers in our schools do a fantastic job in taking care of our kids, but perhaps they are taking on more than they should.

An inquiry, currently underway into students with a disability or special needs in New South Wales schools, has revealed the strain that our teachers and education system are under, in managing the needs of our most vulnerable children.

Some 170 submissions detail the constant struggle to provide for and take care of students. Public hearings have been set down for later this year.

One of those submissions came from New England mother, Rachael Sowden.

The mum of four detailed the disparity in needs-based services for children with special needs or disabilities, in the local area.

She spoke of stretched resources, and the lack of incentives to bring teachers qualified in special needs, into regional areas to ensure local children get the education they deserve.

Ms Sowden said some children were forced to travel three-hour return trips into Tamworth, from some parts of the region, to access education and care; and to us that is simply not good enough.

What is even more terrifying, was the time Ms Sowden was forced to coax her own son off the New England Highway, after she found he had escaped the school grounds. No one is saying it’s the school’s fault – we are talking about resources stretched to the limit.

But the issue is still so raw, the local mother says she continues to have nightmares about it.

Perhaps the only answer here is resources.

Do we need more special-needs trained staff in our schools? What can we do to ensure children, including Ms Sowden’s son and others with special needs and disabilities within our region, are adequately looked after and our teachers are supported and trained to deal with the challenges they may face with these children?

What can be done to attract more resources out to the bush; and not just in an education sense, but allied health services that compliment these needs?

The first step towards a possible solution is this inquiry and with 170 submissions, from parents, teachers, the Department of Education and other peak bodies, we can only hope that there is enough evidence to inspire and encourage change. After all, the kids deserve it, the parents and the teachers sure do too. Let’s get the ball rolling.

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