Appendix 4: About the Speech Language Initiative

Ministry of Education: Managing support for students with high special educational needs.

What does the initiative provide support for?

The Speech Language Initiative provides the funding that enables the Ministry’s speech-language therapists to work with students (usually at school) who have severe communication needs. For example, the students may have speech difficulties, fluency disorders, voice resonance disorders, language difficulties, or significant language delay.

Speech-language therapists support the student and advise families and teachers about communication problems. The Speech Language Initiative also includes training courses for teachers, so they can identify communication difficulties and arrange programmes to meet a student’s needs.

Who is eligible for support under the initiative?

The Speech Language Initiative is largely for students who are not already funded under ORRS and have severe communication needs in their first three years of school. Some older students may receive help through the Speech Language Initiative if they have difficulties that developed later or were not apparent during their first three years at school.

What does the application process involve?

Usually, educators co-ordinate information about a student’s needs and submit a referral for support to the appropriate district office.

Who makes the decisions about eligibility?

Service managers and relevant specialist practice staff within the Ministry’s district and local offices are responsible for making decisions on each referred student’s eligibility for funding, based on information provided in the referral.

Who allocates the funding?

The Ministry allocates funding to district offices, based on the number of students enrolled in each district. Fund managers in the district offices determine how much support to give to an individual student, based on the student’s needs and circumstances (as identified in their Individual Education Programme plan).

How much funding is involved, and how many students are supported?

The Speech Language Initiative receives $9–13 million in funding each year, and supports between 5500 and 7000 students.

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