Parent wins extra support

Jan McLean blamed a December 2015 State Government freeze on hiring for her 13-year-old son Josh’s lack of contact time with an education assistant at Canning Vale College (CVC).

According to the Education Department, Josh went from 20 hours of contact time in 2015 to 15 in 2016.

Last week, after Mrs McLean approached both the State Government and Opposition, Josh’s contact time was increased to 18 hours a week.

Mrs McLean, who believed Josh was receiving just eight hours a week, said she was happy to see the Government “relent” and urged other parents with children with disabilities to advocate for their child’s educational needs.

“It is a great outcome; now what about other WA kids with special needs,” she said. “If you don’t advocate for your child, no one will.”

Education Minister Peter Collier said claims the case related to the hiring freeze were wrong.

“This has nothing to do with the hiring freeze,” Mr Collier said. “If it did, the school would have applied for an exemption for more education assistance time.

“It hasn’t done this.”

Regional executive director for South Metropolitan Education, Sue Cuneo, said she was concerned Mrs McLean thought Josh was receiving just eight hours contact time rather than 15 and blamed miscommunication, promising to increase communication.

“I have been assured by (CVC) principal Ron Bamford that Joshua received 15 hours of education assistant time per week during February 2016 and that this was increased to 18 hours as of March 1,” she said.

“I am concerned about the level of misunderstanding around the facts of this case and I will be working with the school to ensure there is much greater clarity in its communications with parents in future.”

She said Josh would continue to receive the best support for his needs.

“The Department provided the appropriate allocation under the Student Centred Funding Model for Joshua McLean for 2016 and the school determined the best way to spend this to support Joshua’s needs,” she said.

“Ultimately, the most important person is Joshua and I am pleased he is receiving an appropriate level of support.”