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There are eight principles guiding RTLB practice:

1. Inclusive teaching

2. Culturally responsive

3. Ecological approach

4. Collaborative and seamless model of service

5. Strengths based

6. Reflective

7. Evidence based

8. Professional

1. Inclusive Teaching

Recognising and valuing the diversity and contribution of all children and young people.  RTLB assist kaiako/teachers to develop:

  • inclusive classroom environments that enhance learning, self-identity, participation and contribution
  • strategies for identifying and breaking down barriers to inclusion in the least intrusive way. 

For more information, visit the Inclusive Education and the Ministry of Education websites.

2. Culturally responsive

New Zealand communities are diverse, with many different cultures, ethnic, religious and socio-economic  groups.  RTLB understand and respect the social and cultural influences on learning in the multi-cultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand. They work to strengthen confidence in cultural identity and connection to parents, families/whānau and kura whānau/school communities.

The RTLB service supports schools to meet the identified needs of students in their communities by:

  • appreciating the diversity that individual RTLB bring to their cluster
  • increasing the cultural competence of the service

RTLB practice will:

  • develop positive, culturally responsive relationships with students and their whānau/families
  • use practices that reflect learners’ cultural values, knowledge and ways of learning
  • empower students from all cultures to succeed.

This principle places importance on cultural knowledge and understanding and the right of Māori to define, protect, promote and control all of their tāonga and resources.  RTLB develop relationships with Māori whānau and community members so they can actively participate in the decision-making process to improve the achievement of Māori students.

Interventions involving Māori students should take the Māori potential approach and emphasise the importance of language, identity, culture and sharing knowledge in partnership with students, parents, whānau/families and kaiako/teachers.

RTLB practice will contribute to accelerating Māori student achievement by:

  • identifying the needs of Māori students within the cluster
  • identifying RTLB who can work in Māori medium settings
  • working for and with parents, whānau/families, iwi and hapū and delivering a culturally responsive service.
The Treaty of Waitangi

 RTLB practice is in accordance with the principles in the three articles of the Treaty:

  • partnership (article one) by working effectively with iwi and other Māori providers involved with a student
  • protection (article two) by valuing children as tāonga
  • participation (article three) by ensuring whānau and families have the opportunity to participate in the process.

Recognising, valuing and responding to the needs of Māori through the RTLB being able to incorporate within their practice the competencies within “Tātaiako – cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners”. The competencies are:

  • Wānanga: participating with learners and communities in robust dialogue for the benefit of Māori learners’ achievement.
  • Whanangatanga: actively engaging in respectful working relationships with Māori learners, parents, whānau/families, hapū, iwi and the Māori community.
  • Manaakitanga: showing integrity, sincerity and respect towards Māori beliefs, language and culture.
  • Tangata Whenuatanga: affirming Māori learners as Māori. Providing contexts for learning where the language, identity and culture of Māori learners and their whānau is affirmed.
  • Ako: taking responsibility for own learning and that of Māori learners.
  • Recognising, valuing and responding to the needs of Pasifika learners.
  • Ensuring culture and identity are acknowledged and valued and shape the work of RTLB.
The Maori Education Strategy: Ka Hikitia

Ka Hikitia is the Ministry of Education’s approach to improving the performance of the education system for and with Māori. It emphasises the importance of a Māori potential approach in education and focuses on:

  • identifying opportunity
  • investing in people and local solutions
  • tailoring education to the learner
  • indigeneity and distinctiveness
  • collaborating and co-constructing.

Ka Hikitia also emphasises the importance of ako. The key aspects of ako are:

  • identity, language and culture counts – knowing where  students come from and building on what students bring with them
  • productive partnerships – Māori students, whānau and educators sharing knowledge and expertise with each other to produce better outcomes.

For more information, visit the Ministry website, The Māori Education Strategy: Ka Hikitia

Framework for Success for Māori

Framework for Success for Maori (PDF, 250 KB)

OHOOHO Self-management: Managing one's values and assumptions and using Māori values to help achieve them.

TU MAIA Self-awareness: Recognising one's own cultural values and assumptions and how they may influence our actions.

WHANAUNGATANGA Relationship Skills: Forming positive relationships through the use of cultural values and practices.

NOHO AO Social and Cultural Awareness: Showing understanding and empathy for understanding Māori students and their parents, families/whānau.

KOTAHITANGA Responsible Decision-making: Making culturally ethical, constructive choices from the Māori evidence collated.

Working with Pasifika

The Pasifika Education Plan is the Ministry of Education’s approach to encouraging personal responsibility, promoting collective accountability and emphasising the importance of lifting Pasifika achievement.

Pasifika students come from a range of Pacific islands each with unique cultural and language identities. Interventions involving Pasifika students must be appropriate for their unique cultures. It cannot be assumed that what is appropriate for one Pasifika culture will be appropriate for all Pasifika cultures.

For more information, visit the Ministry website, Pasifika Education Plan.

Collaborating with whānau/families

RTLB interventions should acknowledge the family’s aspirations for their child’s education. Whānau/families should:

  • be actively engaged and involved in all aspects of the process
  • feel encouraged and empowered in their knowledge and decision-making.

Communication with families should be culturally appropriate, for example:

  • accessing an interpreter if necessary
  • involving appropriate liaison people from the community
  • establishing and build on positive relationships. 

3. Ecological approach

The students’ needs and the programmes, interventions and support provided must be understood and shaped within the context of the students’ current learning environments. Using an ecological approach to the interventions means the student's learning and behaviour is assessed within the normal routines, interactions and practices of their classroom and kura/school.

The ecological view is that:

  • the student and their learning environment relate to and define each other
  • learning is an on-going,  interactive and contextualised process
  • learning and behaviour should be considered in the larger cultural context to properly understand the assessment.
  • any mismatch between students’ physical, interpersonal and learning environments and students' characteristics and needs is identified.  

4. Collaborative and seamless model of service

This principle is about consulting and working with kura/schools, kaiako/teachers, akonga/students, whānau/families and communities and professional communities of practice, to put in place effective strategies and programmes to achieve mutually agreed goals.  RTLB value open communication and sharing of knowledge.

The key to this principle is placing the student at the centre and asking 'How can we best meet the needs of this student?'

Collaborative consultation involves:

  • negotiating, facilitating and supporting kura/schools to make sustainable change             
  • parents, whānau/families contributing information and being involved in the development of goals
  • working with kaiako/teachers to build capability and knowledge to provide effective learning environments for all students
  • encouraging student participation in planning progression and evaluating their learning
  • team members using a collaborative, proactive and solutions focussed framework as described in the RTLB practice sequence
  • co-construction of goals and interventions.

Seamless inter-professional practice is when professionals learn with, from and about each other to strengthen their own professional identity and practice and to collaboratively improve outcomes for all.  This involves:

  • RTLB, Ministry of Education Learning Suppotrt and agencies from different professional backgrounds working together with whānau/families and kura/schools to support improved outcomes for tamariki/students
  • all members of the team participating and relying upon one another to accomplish common goals
  • maximising the strengths and skills of all team members
  • developing and maintaining professional, trusting and respectful relationships
  • communicating with clarity and openness
  • facilitating interaction, exchange and co-reflection of the inter-professional team
  • supporting transition between RTLB, Ministry of Education Learning Support and other agencies
  • improving practice within each profession to better support and complement that of others.

5. Strengths based

RTLB value all people involved and seek to maximise their potential and participation. This principle is about finding solutions by looking at the strengths and resources of:

  • students
  • parents, whānau/families
  • kaiako/teachers
  • the kura/school
  • iwi. 

Intervention goals should:

  • acknowledge and enhance strengths
  • strengthen cultural identity
  • focus on the future and not the past
  • rekindle hope
  • facilitate change
  • be sustainable
  • enhance the motivation, capability and capacity within the collaborative team.

6. Reflective

Recognising and valuing the importance of evaluating practice for future improvement, RTLB keep records of each step in the practice sequence. This allows for continuous reflection on practice to ensure fidelity to programmes and better outcomes for students.  RTLB evaluate their professional practice:

  • in terms of the match between their behaviour and their intentions
  • in terms of the outcomes achieved for students, parents, whānau/families and school communities
  • with reference to established theory and examples of exemplary practice.

7. Evidence based

Visible throughout the RTLB practice sequence, Evidence Based Practice (EBP) is an integral part of RTLB work. Opportunities for collaboration with colleagues and whānau focus on strengths, data, best evidence, and what works.  RTLB use evidence-based interventions as they provide more effective support for students, families, teachers and school communities. RTLB support those involved with the student and enable them to integrate new learning with existing knowledge, skills and experience. RTLB encourage them to engage priority learners within the context of the classroom.

RTLB interventions should demonstrate evidence-based practice. Evidence Based Practice is 'the data we select – the relevant information that we notice from the external research work and from our own practice – and the interpretations we make from that data.'

The process of interpretation is one of sense making: asking questions about the data to create new and useful knowledge. Spillane, Reiser, and Reimer (2002) identify four steps in the sense-making process:

  • Noticing
  • Framing
  • Interpreting
  • Constructing meaning

This takes time, effort and the use of prior knowledge. It becomes a dynamic interaction of research evidence, practitioner expertise and the voice of teacher/whānau/student.

Useful evidence helps provide answers to the questions or hypotheses being investigated. This means that the tools and approaches used to gather data must relate to the purpose of the inquiry and the context in which it is taking place. Inquiry can draw on informal evidence, such as observations and interviews, and formal evidence, such as standardised achievement data. Related research findings by others from outside the immediate context are another valuable source of evidence, provided it too is collected and actively interpreted for the purpose and the context.

Other models of evidence based practice


Teaching as Inquiry

RTLB practice fits within the Inquiry Cycle and each stage is visible within the RTLB practice sequence.

The following considerations are critical when planning an inquiry cycle:

  • decide how to gather evidence
  • decide how to critically analyse data
  • the collaborative process and activities scaffold learning. 

Teacher and student inquiry cycles may occur alongside the RTLB inquiry cycle:

  • student learning needs
  • learning needs of teacher/school
  • RTLB learning needs, inquiry question, beliefs and assumptions
  • Learning experiences, RTLB colleague/critical friend observations, professional literature
  • RTLB practice changes
  • teacher practice changes
  • impact for students.
Springboards to Practice

Springboards to Practice were developed as part of the Enhancing Effective Practice Special Education project.

'The Springboards weave research information together with student, parent and teacher voices into practical teaching suggestions'. Evidence is considered from the following sources:

  • professional practitioners
  • from whānau/families and young people about their lived experience
  • from research (national and international)
  • from RTLB inquiry (local action research).

8. Professional

RTLB work within the Code of Ethics for Registered Teachers.  All interactions are governed by the principles of autonomy, justice, responsible care and truth.

As itinerating specialist resource teachers, RTLB work across schools within a cluster.  Each of the 40 clusters are employed by a lead school board of trustees and are therefore subject to the lead school employment policies and protocols.  RTLB are employed under primary, secondary or area school collective/individual employment contracts 

RTLB act ethically, promoting positive values and maintaining and raising professional standards. They do this by:

  • gaining ongoing written, informed consent from whānau/families and/or caregivers during case work
  • familiarising themselves with relevant school policies and procedures relating to student safety and wellbeing
  • following cluster policies and protocols
  • adhering to relevant school policies and procedures related to student safety and wellbeing.

For more information about the code and standards of teaching, visit the Education Council website.

For more information about sharing information about vulnerable children, visit the Privacy Commissioner website.