Graduate teachers will only be employed by the State Government if they are qualified to deal with students with disabilities or learning disorders.
And the State's 17,000 existing teachers will undergo training to detect and deal with the estimated 35,000 Western Australian students with special needs.
These were key parts of a new State Government plan announced today to improve the quality of education for students with intellectual or physical disabilities or specific learning disorders.
Launching the plan, Education Minister Kay Hallahan said more than 10 per cent of WA students had special education needs.
More than 5,000 had intellectual or physical disabilities and a further 30,000 developed learning disorders during their school years.
"There is growing concern that failure to identify and deal with special learning needs at an early age can have disastrous effects in later life," she said.
The Minister said other initiatives included:
· a parent advisory service in each school district to involve parents in decisions about their child's education;
· a complete review of existing programs to assess their effectiveness and improve co-ordination;
· the introduction of a comprehensive assessment program to detect student problems at an early age;
· the establishment of a special team - including teachers and psychologists - to work with parents and teachers of students with learning difficulties such as Attention Deficit Disorder; and -
· a $1.2 million boost to speech, physio and occupational therapy services to students with disabilities.
Mrs Hallahan said students with special needs often experienced difficulties in reading, writing and spelling and were easily distracted.
"They are often unable to learn, even though they are quite capable, and are frequently affected by low self esteem," she said.
"New and existing teachers must be equipped with the skills to assist these students get the most out of their years of schooling."
The Minister said she had appointed an 11-member team - headed by Spastic Welfare Chief Ruth Shean - to develop an action plan for the introduction of the initiatives.
The team would report to the Government by April, 1993.