Time for the Minister of Education to stop dodging and save Salisbury School

Eternally embattled Minister of Education Hekia Parata must step up, front up and stop dodging questions regarding the future of Salisbury School, says the PSA.

“The decision around the future of Salisbury School has been overdue for months, and the ambiguity is leaving parents, staff and students in limbo. It’s time the Minister stopped hiding, muddying the waters and being dishonest about her Ministry’s intentions,” says Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary.

For 100 years, Salisbury School in Richmond has offered a supportive and nurturing environment for girls from years 3-10 with severe intellectual disabilities and other high and complex needs, enabling them to positively contribute in their own communities. Since the introduction of the Government’s Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS) and its highly complex application process, attendance has dropped, and critics have argued that the IWS limits Salisbury’s admissions due to its focus on specific behavioural indicators rather than intellectual disabilities like autism.

“While the IWS is a good model for targeting some at-risk kids, it has been unfairly deployed in limiting parents’ access to schools like Salisbury. Prospective attendees have even reported being told by Ministry officials that the school’s fate has already been sealed, which is both misleading and confusing,” says Ms Polaczuk.

“The Minister is happy to parade around talking up the benefits of charter schools, but she has been utterly disengaged and dismissive of Salisbury’s very persuasive, argument for an enhanced focus on autistic and intellectually disabled students.

“We’re calling on the Minister to listen to the parents, staff and workers at Salisbury and front up with a decision on the school’s future; ideally one that is based on empathy and evidence rather than hollow rhetoric and jargon.

“It may be an election year, but the Minister needs to stop ducking and show some leadership so that these girls, parents and students aren’t dealt a lifelong blow to their wellbeing.”