A series of public hearings will be held across the State as part of a State Government inquiry into the education of students with disabilities or learning disorders.
Education Minister Kay Hallahan today announced the hearings, which would allow parents, teachers and other interested groups to make personal submissions to a task force headed by Cerebral Palsy Association chief Dr Ruth Shean.
Mrs Hallahan said she set up the task force to recommend ways of improving the quality of education for the estimated 35,000 Western Australian students with intellectual or physical disabilities or specific learning disorders.
"More than 10 per cent of WA students have special education needs. In fact, 5,000 have intellectual or physical disabilities and a further 30,000 are identified as having learning disorders during their school years," Mrs Hallahan said.
"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."
The Minister said proposed initiatives included:
· a requirement that all graduate teachers employed by the State Government be qualified to deal with students with disabilities or learning disorders;
· training for the State's 17,000 existing teachers so they could detect and deal with students with special needs;
· 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; and
· the establishment of a special team - including teachers and psychologists - to work with parents and teachers of students with learning and attention difficulties.
Dr Shean's team was due to present an action plan to the Government by April 1993.
Mrs Hallahan said written submissions would be accepted until March 8, 1993 but the hearings provided the opportunity for informal or verbal submissions.
Hearings were planned for Bunbury (January 27), Narrogin (January 28), Kalgoorlie (February 2), Karratha (February 4), Perth (February 8 and 18), Geraldton (February 10), Albany (February 11), Kununurra (February 16).
Appointments could be made by telephoning 264 4821 or 264 4828.