The NSW SPC rejects comments made by Senator Pauline Hanson suggesting students with disabilities should be removed from mainstream classrooms. NSW SPC President, Chris Presland, explained that such comments are completely at odds with the principles espoused by public education such as diversity and inclusiveness:
“Senator Hanson’s comments are appalling and there is absolutely no evidence to support the suggestion that students with disabilities should be removed from mainstream schools. We all have strengths and weaknesses and it is inspiring to watch students support each other in the classroom and see an alternative way of doing something. One of the most wonderful aspects of public education in NSW is our commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Our students and teachers are enriched by this experience and I invite Senator Hanson to visit one of the many wonderful public schools in NSW to see a classroom in action. What she will see is a classroom which brings together a diverse group of young people and celebrates both their commonalities and differences.”
Mr. Presland said the NSW SPC has been vocal in advocating for greater funding for students with disabilities:
“Segregation places the blame on students when really the problem is about the need for greater funding. The SPC gave evidence at the NSW Legislative Council inquiry into the provision of education to students with a disability or special needs and we strongly advocated for increased resources for these students to support the right of every student to access a high quality education. We already have wonderful support staff and programs in schools for children with disabilities, however needs based funding would provide certainty for the ongoing provision of these programs. Employing additional staff to provide intensive support to students with the greatest needs involves a financial cost and our students will tell you how the extra support and assistance has shaped their educational aspirations and outcomes. As debate continues in parliament about the Gonski legislation, this is a timely reminder illustrating how schools need additional funding for extra resources for all students.
Pauline Hanson’s comments seek to divide and do not reflect the values of the Australian public education system. Education is society’s great leveller and the notion that students with disabilities and autism are “holding students back” is an archaic view which does not match the experiences of teachers and students in public schools,” Mr. Presland said.
Chris Presland President
NSW Secondary Principals’ Council