Pressures building in learning support

Children walking to school. Photo by Lynn Grieveson

The Government is anticipating a rise in costs for providing services for children with autism and other special needs, as well school students with English as a second language.

In the Half Yearly Economic and Fiscal Update, Treasury noted that "there are a number of cost pressures building in the supply of learning support services."

This includes increased costs for the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) which provides contestable funding for children with moderate and severe disabilities. Parents, schools and disabled rights organisations have been pressuring the Government over what they say is increasing difficulty in meeting the assessment requirements for ORS funding.

Treasury says increased costs are also expected for Early Intervention and Sensory Learning, which helps children with autism and other special needs, and for providing aides and other services for the increasing number of children who do not speak English as their first language.

"To the extent that these pressures cannot be managed within agency baselines, additional funding is likely to be required," Treasury said.

Following last year's aged care pay equity agreement, attention has been focused on the pay rates of teacher aides and other school support staff, raising the likelihood that the Government will also face increased costs from a pay equity deal in the education sector.