The Highest Needs Review

Over a number of weeks in early 2022, FASD-CAN was involved in preparing a submission for the Highest Needs Review.

This is an initiative from the Ministry of Education which aims to ensure that children and young people with the highest needs for learning support achieve their full potential through positive education outcomes. It is related to a priority under the MOE’s Learning Support Action Plan 2019-2025.

The review is looking at children who:

  • currently receive individualised support
  • have an unmet need for individualised support
  • are in settings that have inequitable access to these supports. 

As we are aware, most children with FASD do not receive MOE funding and for many the education experience fails to set them up to achieve their full potential. Providing input into this process was therefore important for FASD-CAN as we want to see more support for students, early intervention before problems occur, more awareness of FASD within education settings and training on FASD for teachers and learning support staff. 

In February 2022 we surveyed families with children with FASD on their experiences in the education system. Twenty-two families provided detailed responses. The children were in a range of education settings: mainstream schooling, special classes, te kura, special schools and care and protection residences.

The results show that children with FASD are largely unsupported through the school system. Many families face huge emotional, personal and financial difficulties as a result. Early intervention is key to preventing the secondary disabilities associated with FASD – involvement in youth justice, substance abuse, poor mental health and anti-social activities. 

There has been widespread consultation on the review. For our part, FASD-CAN provided a submission on the Terms of Reference and worked with the Highest Needs Review team at MoE to run focus groups to allow oral submissions from families impacted by FASD. We also made a submission responding to a series of questions about current support system and the difficulties experienced by most families who have children with FASD in the New Zealand education system. 

Our submission makes recommendations for support, training and accommodation of their needs based the personal experiences of some of our families. 

We wish to thank all of those involved for their important input into this review.

The review is due to be completed by the end of 2022.

You can read FASD-CAN's full submission here