The Coalition’s spokesman on Disabilities, Senator Mitch Fifield and local federal MP for Dunkley, Bruce Billson, have today expressed amazement at a report that a school catering for children with special needs is having to fight for toilets to be built with their new classrooms under the Building the Education Revolution program.
The story, which appeared in The Age today, reported that the Frankston Special Development School in Victoria has been told that the template for new classrooms under the BER doesn’t include toilets even though the school has offered to cover the costs associated with their installation.
The school has requested toilet facilities be included in the new classrooms to cater for the specific needs of their students with disabilities, but have been told the new rooms might not even be connected to water.
“Julia Gillard’s one-size-fits-all approach has come to a point where a school catering for students with disabilities has to fight for toilet facilities,” Senator Fifield said.
“To promise a computer for every high school student but not pay for the installation costs is one thing, but to build new classrooms at a school catering for students with special needs and not provide necessary toilet facilities is quite another.”
Mr Billson said: “This is a classic example of where a far better outcome can be achieved if only the government would listen to the school community and respond to the specific needs of the students.
“I’m looking forward to meeting with the school and parents to work towards securing the best outcome we can in light of the government’s disappointing attitude to date.”
This latest issue comes on the back of a story earlier this week which revealed the computers Julia Gillard’s been handing out to schools can’t handle the technology needed by students with vision impairment.
And it follows another situation last year where a school had to fight to restore wheelchair access to three classrooms after they were demolished to make way for a Julia Gillard Memorial Gymnasium.
“The roll-out of the government’s education programs is consistently failing to meet the needs of students with disabilities,” Senator Fifield said.
“During Senate Estimates last year, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, said that schools with children with special needs would be catered for.
“Obviously they haven’t got a grip of the rollout of the program as schools catering for students with disabilities continue to have their specific requests ignored.
“If Julia Gillard is going to impose her memorial gymnasiums and classrooms on schools, she should at least ensure they meet the needs of all students.”