Education for your child in Auckland
Education NewsYouthlaw report into special education support in schools: In a recently released report (September 2016), YouthLaw urges the Government to make comprehensive changes to the structure, funding and accountability of the special education sector.
Read more on the Youthlaw website»
Download a copy of the report (PDF)»
OverviewADSA believes that students with Down syndrome learn best in a mainstream inclusive environment where they can participate in the daily life of their community. We also recognise that some families choose to place their children in a special school/satellite class. If you would like to read more about the benefits of inclusive education and keys to successful inclusive education, click on the link below:
Good Practice Guidelines on Education for Children and Young People with Down Syndrome in the UK.
Click here to read more.
In Auckland there are many options for your child’s education available to you. By law your child is entitled to attend early childhood education and school like every other child in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Governments policy concerning students with special needs is clearly spelt out in ‘Success for All- Every School, Every Child’. The policy places a heavy emphasis on inclusive education for all students. The vision in the document is to work towards developing a fully inclusive education system of confident schools, confident children and confident parents. The ‘Success for All...’ factsheet outlines what is meant by confident schools, children and parents, as well noting key changes that will take place over the next few years to see this happen.
"DON'T LIMIT ME!"- Powerful message from Megan with Down syndrome.
Early Intervention ServicesChildren with Down syndrome are able to access a range of early intervention services. These services are available from birth, and in the Auckland region are delivered by either CCS Disability Action or Group Special Education (GSE) which is part of the Ministry of Education.
The link below provides an excellent summary of how early intervention services work and what support is available:
Kidshealth Early Intervention
The early intervention services that CCS Disability Action can provide are described here:
CCS Disability Action early intervention services
The early intervention services that the Ministry of Education and GSE provide are described here:
Ministry of Education and GSE early intervention services
Transitioning to SchoolMaking decisions about your child’s schooling can be very difficult and stressful. Down Syndrome Victoria has developed an excellent resource to help parents with choosing an appropriate school for their child. This resource guides parents through things to look for in schools and questions to ask to ensure that the school you choose is the best possible fit for your child. Even though this resource is not specific to Auckland it is still a highly recommended text and we encourage parents who are about to start thinking about schools to read it.
Your Early Intervention team should help guide you through the transition process and help you with the early contact with the school if you would like them to.
An important aspect of the transition process is the preparation of the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) application. The ORS funding helps pay for the additional supports a child with Down syndrome needs to be successful in the school setting. You can read more about ORS here
The Ministry of Education website has lots of up-to-date information about the various avenues of support available, click on this link to go to the relevant page of their website.
When things go wrong and you need extra support click here for information about YouthLaw Services.
There is a world of fantastic information specific to students with Down syndrome available at Down Syndrome Education International. Click here to visit their website. This article is useful for information about finding out about training phoneme blending to students with Down syndrome to support their reading progress.
Transitioning to Secondary School
The transition to secondary school can be as stressful as the transition from early childhood to primary school. It is recommended that preparation for this change begins the year before your child is due to transition. By starting early, you have the chance to look at a range of schooling options and decide which one is best for your child. The link below takes you to a British article from Down Syndrome Education Online which outlines a number of questions that you as a parent can work through to help guide your decision making, and useful suggestions for things to look for and questions to ask when visiting secondary schools. It also tells the story of one family’s experience of selecting a school for their young person.
By secondary school age, students with Down syndrome face an ever-increasing gap between themselves and their typically developing peers. Deciding between continuing with inclusive education or moving into a special class or school, can become more difficult than ever. As outlined in the article above, it is clear that there are many facets that feed into the decision making process. However, it is worth keeping the benefits of inclusive education in mind. Professor Sue Buckley has done much research in this area, and has written a very interesting article about the benefits of inclusive education for students with Down syndrome. This article is available here:
As with the transition to primary school, you will have support available to you through GSE (Group Special Education). You may like to ask them to go with you to visit schools. Once you have decided on a school and have completed the enrolment process, it is a good idea to ask for your young person to be able to make transitional visits to their new school during Term 4 of the year before they start. Visits can begin with just coming for one period and gradually increase, perhaps building to include morning tea or lunch and maybe two periods. This can be negotiated with the staff from the new school, and your GSE support worker can help with this also. Usually it would be the Learning Support department that you would liaise with to organise this sort of thing. Allowing time for transitional visits can help prepare your young person for the new environment they are entering, and hopefully help alleviate any fears you or they may have.
ADSA’s ‘Home / School Information Pack- Primary’If your child is about to start school and you are a member of ADSA then you will receive an invitation to attend a special evening to receive a School Resource Pack. These packs contain current information and a range of carefully selected resources to help support your child, and their teacher, as they start school. At the presentation evening, each item in the pack is briefly discussed to inform parents of how they can best be used. Parents can then decide what information they would like to share with their school. It is our hope that the Resource Packs provide an opportunity for families and schools to share information together and therefore strengthen the partnership between them.