Leadership vital for inclusive practice Thu 12 July 2012 Paul O'Halloran Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Skills Download hi-res version Effective leadership was vital in delivering quality education to students with special needs, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Skills, Paul O'Halloran, said today. Officially opening the joint Australian Association of Special Education national conference and the Tasmanian Principals Association state conference in Hobart today, Mr O'Halloran said that the every Tasmanian student had the right to access quality education, including those with special or additional needs. "Supporting students with specific learning disabilities and their families in our schools is also important in developing resilient, resourceful young people that will contribute to the future prosperity of our State," Mr O'Halloran said. "Improving both the strategies and tools to assist our students with additional needs is a high priority for the State Government, and today's conference provides a great opportunity to share what is working well and where we can do better." Mr O'Halloran said that the Tasmanian Government was implementing many initiatives to improve the support and programs for students with high and additional needs. "We want to ensure that all students can access, and achieve success in, an appropriate learning program," he said. "That's why in 2012 the total Special Needs Budget is $68.1 million - an increase of $4.3 million from 2011 and total increase of $36.4 million since 2004." State Government initiatives include: All Department of Education staff can now access a range of online professional learning modules across a range of disability areas. Fifteen staff have been trained as facilitators to support the use of online disability modules within schools; Access to an online interactive learning module on the Disability Standards for Education, outlining responsibilities and implications for school practice is currently under development in collaboration with other state jurisdictions and University of Canberra; A four day spaced program which will focus on current research and practice that builds inclusive school cultures linked to the school improvement agenda will be offered through the Professional Learning Institute; A total of 325 iPads, covers, and iTunes support will be purchased and allocated for student use over two years. In addition, 20 interactive whiteboards will be allocated for special schools and a range of assistive technologies for students in mainstream schools with vision impairment including Braille display devices and portable magnification devices; A set of materials and resources for use by schools and families will be developed to support effective transition between stages of schooling for students with disabilities. This will include relief to support 100 teachers attend professional learning in relation to transition support training and $160,000 to support enactment of transition programs for students with disability. Mr O'Halloran said that the conference, Ethical Leadership - For All, would be attended by more than 300 academics, principals, teachers and administrators working across the Government, Catholic and independent sectors. Keynote speakers include Professor Michael Giangreco from the University of Vermont, Professor John Visser from the University of Birmingham, Dan Buckley from Cambridge Education UK, and Dr Simon Longstaff from St James Ethics Centre. The conference will run until tomorrow.