Emotions will run high on Wednesday morning as families prepare to send children back to school.
Students and pupils will have their bags packed and uniforms ironed and parents will get back into a somewhat normal routine of hectic morning hustle and afternoon bustle around pick up and drop off times. Back to school has become an important backdrop for the Productivity Commission to release its report on government services for education, which examines the distribution of funding and the effectiveness of the system, by surveying students and providing data around wellbeing, for example. One thing the report revealed was that government schools nationally had a higher proportion of students with special needs than non-government schools.
For students with a disability, 19.7 per cent, 18.0 per cent, and 19.2 per cent of students at government, Catholic, and independent schools, respectively, required an education adjustment due to disability.
This increase across the board has put into data something disability advocates have known for a long time. This year, the Tasmanian Government will, for the first time, introduce a needs-based disability funding model, which moves away from a traditional funding model for students with a disability. It means schools can apply for "education adjustments" whether that is a teacher's aide, teaching materials or other requirements, to assist them in their learning experience. A funding model such as this is a first in the nation and will help to address challenges faced by children with a disability but what remains to be seen is how the funding model will, if it can, assist teachers and support them in how they divide their time between students, as they develop new ways to cater for a growing diverse cohort of students. As always, back to school is also a timely reminder for motorists to slow down and be vigilant, particularly in school zones. A new road safety campaign launched by the state government has urged drivers to "love 40" and slow down to 40km/h in school zones. Road safety is everybody's responsibility, and while accidents can still always happen, if everyone takes responsibility the risk is minimised.