Today’s challenge is to ensure the opportunity to learn and to build capability for children with learning disability and Down syndrome

Dr Maree Kirk1

1STPDS NZ, Tauranga, New Zealand

The Human Right to education is the opportunity to learn, to build capability as an essential factor of wellbeing for children with a disability (Kirk, 2019).

The purpose of the study is to address the gap in our understanding of capability, human rights and wellbeing for children with a disability.

In the study there is a particular focus on the schools’ sector, given that the majority of children and young people with disabilities attend schools, and that schools are a key social institution by which they are equipped for social participation and inclusion.

Objective – To evaluate Supporting Practice for Students with Learning Disability and Down Syndrome, Capability Model of Wellbeing (Kirk, 2019). Professional Learning and Development programme 2020 – 2021.

Participants – The study involved schools with students with Down syndrome and learning disability of mixed ethnicity aged 5-21 years. The 471 adult participants involved were education, health staff, and parents. The study involved a six month series of professional development training seminars and the Supporting Practice Education Resource Pack. Surveys were conducted on reflective practice and change in opportunities to learn and participate in social, educational and sporting events for children in the study throughout the programme.

The 471 participants’ results provide a comparative analysis with earlier Supporting Practice studies that intentional provision of educational access for students with learning disability within a Human Rights and Capability Model promotes wellbeing in New Zealand schools.

To promote wellbeing for children with learning disability, intellectual disability and Down syndrome state funded professional development is required to ensure that evidence-based explicit teaching strategies and resources are used to provide all opportunities to build capability for children with a disability in natural childhood environments of regular schools.


Maree has a background in health and education, and with Waikato University. Her PhD is first theory of wellbeing for children and young people with a disability. She is the President of the BOP Down Syndrome Assn. Inc. Maree has four adult children the youngest of whom has Down syndrome.