This report is based on schools’ responses to a questionnaire about how they provide for students with special needs. Although the intention was to gather information about students with moderate to high needs, many schools have used a broader interpretation of special needs.
Approximately ninety percent of schools had identified students with special needs and rated themselves as mostly inclusive. They expressed positive attitudes towards having students with special needs in the school and an intention or commitment to meeting their needs in regular classrooms as much as possible. Staff in almost all schools had received PLD or support so that they could assist students with special needs.
Schools documented their commitment in the policies they provided. Usually, the policies referred to students with a wide range of special needs and not just the students with high needs who were the focus of ERO’s 2010 report, Including Students with High Needs.
Schools have used a wide range of approaches to support the achievement and inclusion of students with various special needs. However, many described outcomes for students in general terms such as improvement or progress, rather than having specific information about achievement. When reporting to the Board, many schools did not talk about the specific progress made by students with special needs but instead reported the support provided by the school.
The lack of outcome analysis does not allow schools to fully evaluate the effectiveness of their provisions for students with special needs and to make informed decisions about changes needed to improve their achievement and well-being.