Increase funding for students with additional needs
4. Increase the Commonwealth funding for evidence-based school support, such as for tutoring, for students with disability and/or learning difficulties
Children with disability are at increased risk of experiencing health inequities. These gaps widen as children grow, resulting in adverse adult health, educational and vocational outcomes. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures and remote learning have been challenging for many children with disability or learning difficulties, as well as their families and carers. Many have fallen behind in their learning and additional support is needed to help them catch up.
While the available support services in our schools are welcomed, accessing assistance within the education system was difficult for many prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2019 survey by Children and Young People with Disability Australia found that students with disability are routinely excluded in their education. COVID-19 has exacerbated these issues with many caregivers reporting further decreased and disrupted supports. Early intervention for children with disability and/or learning difficulties involves timely provision of an optimal nurturing and learning environment and evidence-informed interventions that aim to maximise developmental and health outcomes and reduce the degree of functional limitations. Additional learning supports that are evidence-informed enable children to re-engage with school and their peers. For example, small group tutoring has been shown to be an effective method for helping students overcome learning losses.