Providing Deaf Education Services in New Zealand is the responsibility of two Centres serving the whole of the country. These are van Asch Deaf Education Centre and Kelston Deaf Education Centre. Together they work closely with each other to support over 2,000 deaf and hard of hearing children in New Zealand and operate under a Combined Board of Trustees.
Although van Asch Deaf Education Centre was set up as a special residential school, it is more than a school. It is an organisation providing a full range of services including early involvement, school, assessment and residential courses for students from birth to 21 years old, their families and whanau. In addition to its Residential Core School, which comprises a number of on-site and off-site hubs, it provides a range of specialist outreach services as diverse and individual as the abilities of the children it supports. These include New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Tuition, early childhood services, specialist teaching provision including Resource Teachers of the Deaf (RTDs) and Specialist Resource Teachers (SRTs). The Centre also has a Technical Services team and provides courses and materials for mainstream teachers, leaders and other professionals.
van Asch Deaf Education Centre is committed to the vision of the Combined Board; where deaf and hard of hearing students are able to meaningfully contribute to society and are able to determine their future and fulfil their dreams:
To achieve this, it works with families and whanau to support early access to language, excellence in teaching and best practice. The Centre takes a holistic approach to learning where the social and emotional wellbeing of students is just as important as academic success.
The van Asch community has also developed its own independent set of values which are cherished by staff and students alike. These values were developed at the time of its 125th Anniversary and are incorporated into the school curriculum. Represented by the abbreviation PRIDE, they are strongly held and articulated values that communicate a sense of identity with the local community, both hearing and Deaf. The school programme is fully invested in these values supporting children and staff to reflect them in all they do. The Centre prides itself in holding a strong commitment to bi-lingual, bi-cultural teaching and mentoring and staff and students, work together with integrity, empathy and mutual respect.
As part of its Treaty of Waitangi obligations within the New Zealand curriculum, van Asch Deaf Education Centre is Culturally responsive, celebrates diversity and respects the preferred learning styles and needs of all its students. Within the Centre grounds is a Whare with strong connections with the local runanga. The Whare is the turangawaewae (a place to stand tall) for all the students, with the teaching of the transition students based in and around the buildings.
Through the changes that have taken place in Deaf Education through the years, van Asch Deaf Education Centre has held firm to its commitment to make the best use of its available resources to meet an ever increasing demand on its services and the expectation of high achievement. It will continue to build and sustain productive partnerships with parents, whanau, schools and other professionals to ensure that our students learn in an environment where they Belong, Grow, Excel and Choose.