Shake-up of special needs funding

A REDISTRIBUTION of special needs funding will see 169 Hunter schools share in an extra $5 million but 33 schools will lose more than half a million dollars between them.

The NSW Education Department has released details of special needs allocations to schools under its new Every Student, Every School policy that will begin next term.

The scheme has been criticised for funding schools based on the prevalence of disability in the community instead of the number of cases at the school.

To see the full list, click on the link to the right of the page.

In the Hunter 169 schools will get $5.1 million more funding combined, up from $16.5 to $21.5 million, but 33 will see their funding cut.

Some schools will have funding increased significantly.

Broke Public School will go from $300 in 2011 to $34,000 in 2012.

The worst affected school is Gateshead West Public school where its funding has dropped by more than half from, from $106,981 down to $49,157.

The NSW Opposition said 272 schools in NSW would lose funding from the start of term three.

Opposition Leader John Robertson accused the state government of being ‘‘callous and uncaring’’.

“I’ve spoken with school principals who say they will be forced to cut vital teacher’s aide positions, reading recovery programs and other initiatives designed especially for students with disabilities and special needs,’’ he said.

Greens MP John Kaye said Premier Barry O’Farrell was rolling out the previous Labor government’s blueprint for special needs funding cuts.

He accused the government of putting the budget bottom line before the state’s most vulnerable children.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the changes would build the capacity of all state schools to meet the needs of students with disability, wherever they enrolled.

He said funding was previously based on old data and it now reflected present needs and changing enrolments.

‘‘The best thing about what we are doing is that parents do not have to shop around for a diagnosis for their child,’’ Mr Piccoli said.

‘‘The money will follow student need.’’

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