Salisbury buoyed by support it is getting
The future of Richmond's Salisbury School may be a little clearer next week, once a summary of the submissions to the Government's new model of special education is released.
The school is waiting to find out its future from Education Minister Hekia Parata.
She is considering submissions on a plan to move to a new "wrap-around" model for special education, which could result in the closure of one or more of the country's four special schools.
A summary of the 368 submissions may be available from Friday, and an initial decision is expected on August 15.
A spokeswoman for the ministry said the submissions were being processed.
The ministry did not expect to make a summary public before July 20.
Many of the submissions did not contain substance beyond a general indication of preference to keep the school open or not.
To put the figure in context, the ministry had received more than 2000 submissions to its 2010 Review of Special Education, the spokeswoman said.
Salisbury School board of trustees chairwoman Helen McDonnell said the school was still in a holding pattern, waiting to hear the outcome of the consultation process.
She had attended the School Trustees Association conference at the weekend, and had received plenty of supportive feedback from members of other school boards.
"It was really affirming to hear that from other people."
The number of submissions was encouraging, and showed that many people were supportive.
A petition on the school's website had attracted more than 3000 signatures, she said.
"They're people saying, ‘I haven't got time to write a submission but I do want to support you'."
Last week a leading disability services provider welcomed the proposed closure of residential schools but called on the Government to offer more support in the mainstream system.
CCS Disability Action chief executive David Matthews wanted the resources diverted to mainstream schools if the closures go ahead.
Evidence suggested opportunities for disabled children attending mainstream schools were significantly better than those who attend special facilities, Mr Matthews said.
“Special schools are not by their nature local schools, but they are able to offer a better level of support, including specialised trained teachers, because they have a better level of resourcing."
It was not fair to make parents choose between mainstream and residential schools, he said.
Ms McDonnell said the school supported inclusion, but there would always be some students for whom a mainstream, wrap-around approach would not be appropriate.
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