Ex-teacher Mersey MLC, Mike Gaffney, said the disability royal commission recommendation to phase out special schools should prompt a discussion on the most effective educational models for all Tasmanian students. "With this disability royal commission recommendation, it creates a new opportunity for the education department, families, and communities to seriously look at what's in the best interests of each and every child, and at the moment, education across the board is seriously underfunded," Mr Gaffney said. He suggested with a decision pending on where to build a new Devonport campus of the North West Support School that adopting a co-location model could offer the best scenario. He said building it next to a school in Devonport is potentially the most efficient and effective way to deliver the educational services all children need. Meantime, a longtime inclusive education campaigner said the way forward called for properly funding schools to cater to the needs of all students. Disability advocate Kristen Desmond welcomed the closure of segregated schools through phasing them out. She emphasised that it would take significant "systems and policies changes". "If you don't improve mainstream education you can't phase out special schools," she said. The comments were in response to the disability royal commission report, which recommended phasing out special schools in Australia over 28 years. The Royal Commission on Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability did not reach a consensus on the role of special schools, but agreed the current situation is unacceptable and needs addressing. Three commissioners proposed no students with disabilities should be placed in segregated education by 2052 and no new support schools should be built from 2025. The remaining commissioners believed that a complete phase-out of special schools was unnecessary. Education Minister Roger Jaensch said the government is working through the royal commission's recommendations but will not close schools. "We believe it is important parents and carers have options regarding their child's education," Mr Jaensch said. "No schools will be closed under the Rockliff Liberal Government." The government recently dropped a co-location plan to consolidate North West Support School services at the old Penguin Primary site next to the new school. The government said by having one campus it would boost educational and support services at the site instead of stretching resources over two. However, given the opposition from some parents and supporters who felt it would disadvantage children having to travel, the government said it would stick to an election pledge to move the Devonport site to a new location and upgrade the Burnie site. Mr Gaffney said that co-locating students with disabilities with a mainstream school had advantages, provided it gets done carefully and appropriately. He said the ideal scenario was to have the new support school campus built near the Devonport or Reece high schools to facilitate more efficient and effective integration. He said gone are the days of stand-alone schools because "that's not what we want in society" . "I think it can be done where there's a campus within a campus," he said. Ms Desmond said a reason to phase out special schools is because there are such low expectations set for students and it often lead to children being segregated for life, limiting their potential. She said students with disability should have access to a mainstream education with equal opportunities for all. She said some parents felt support schools were a better fit for their children because the mainstream school system failed their children. "Every parent wants their child to receive the best possible education, and will choose whatever option can provide that," she said. The Australian Education Union state president David Genford said the Tasmanian branch is committed to promoting equity and inclusion in education and that every child had the right to high-quality education and access to the necessary learning support to reach their full potential. More stories: North West Support School to stick to two campus model Labor's Shane Broad will table petition on behalf of NWSS parents North West Support School has a 'once in a lifetime opportunity' "It is important to have a thoughtful and productive community discussion about the best way to ensure that children with disability can access the education and the opportunities they have a right to, be that through specialist education settings or through local school settings," he said. "However, it remains the case that ensuring these rights are delivered for children with disability is best achieved through a fully resourced public education system. "All governments must ensure that public schools, both specialist and mainstream, are provided with the resources required to teach students with disability and that principals, teachers and education support staff in public education are equipped with adequate training, ongoing professional development and appropriate support to help every child thrive." What do you think? Have your say by sending a Letter to the Editor.