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Scope of practice

RTLB practice is focused on teaching and learning in accordance with the New Zealand Curriculum.

Within the scope of RTLB practice is building teacher and school inclusive practice capability to find solutions that support Years 0-10 students overcome substantial barriers to learning.

RTLB practice responds to school initiated requests for support and to current Ministry of Education priorities as outlined in the funding and service agreement between the lead school and the Ministry. 

The scope of RTLB practice includes:

  • individual, group or school cases
  • projects
  • inclusive practice professional development for teachers
  • ongoing and targeted support for students with high learning needs (HLN) working within level one of the curriculum 
  • supporting student transitions
  • Gateway assessments and education profiles
  • Bilingual assessments
  • supporting secondary schools’ applications for Special Assessment Conditions (SAC)
  • Positive Behaviour for Learning (SWPB4L, IYT)
  • Vulnerable Children’s Teams.

RTLB have a professional obligation to develop and maintain professional relationships with a diverse range of learners, whanāu/parents, caregivers, teachers, schools and other agencies.  RTLB maintain close relationships with cluster schools and SENCo/learning support coordinators through liaison with schools.  RTLB are culturally responsive practitioners.  They strengthen connections with communities, marae, hapū and iwi.

Requests for RTLB support for individual students, groups of students or for schools’ inclusive practices come from class/subject teachers and from SENCo/learning support coordinators or heads of learning support in accordance with cluster and school processes. 

RTLB maintain fidelity to the Practice Sequence, adhere to the Principles of Practice, and build teacher and school confidence, knowledge and skills. 

In the course of school liaison and casework RTLB support schools with applications to other specialists and initiatives including, but not limited to:

  • speech language therapists
  • psychologists
  • audiologists
  • Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)
  • Assistive Technology (AT)
  • Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS).

RTLB are allocated cases that are within their areas of capacity, capability and strength. As a way of broadening confidence, knowledge and skill within the role, RTLB may co-work or case share with colleagues.

To ensure a seamless provision of service to schools, RTLB and Ministry of Education Special Education staff work in partnership.  Equitable roles and responsibilities are negotiated, clarified and agreed when cases are co-worked. 

Tasks outside the scope of RTLB practice include:

  • teaching a particular subject or course
  • working as a teacher aide or reliever
  • carrying out routine school duties
  • providing a counselling, social work, or truancy service
  • assuming management responsibility for crisis/traumatic incidents
  • making diagnoses of disabilities (e.g. ADHD, dyslexia)
  • working as tutor teachers for provisionally registered teachers
  • reporting on a teacher’s professional abilities or competencies.

Vulnerable Children

A better future for vulnerable children is at the heart of both the Children’s Action Plan and the Vulnerable Children Act 2014, which together make significant changes to how we protect and improve the wellbeing of children.

Children’s team have rolled out around the country under the Children’s Action Plan. The teams bring together health, education, welfare and social service agencies to ensure one personalised plan for each vulnerable child and their family/whanau. In some cases, this will involve RTLB.

Team are established in Rotorua, Whangarei, Horowhenua/Otaki, Marlborough, and Hamilton. More teams will be established in the future e.g. Christchurch, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Wanganui, Clendeon/Manurewa/Papakura.

The following document provides guidelines for RTLB of the expectations when participating in Children's Teams.

Guidelines for RTLB and Children (PDF, 328 KB)

For more information, visit:

Gateway Assessments

Working with children entering State Care

Improving support for children in care is a government priority. A transition from a family, or from one school to another, affects each child differently. The way a transition is managed sets the stage for a child’s future successes.

To support children entering into care, Child, Youth and Family, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health developed the Gateway Assessment process.

For more information about Gateway Assessments, visit the Child, Youth and Family website, www.cyf.govt.nz     

The aim is to:

  • identify the health and education needs of children in care
  • ensure there is interagency agreement on how best to address their needs
  • facilitate access to appropriate services for health, education and wellbeing
  • enable families and caregivers to better understand and manage any behavioural issues
  • prioritise referral to the RTLB service for immediate follow up for all children entering care.

RTLB will:

  • facilitate a joint-agency meeting within 0-4 days
  • develop a plan that addresses the immediate needs of the child or young person and covers the first month with provision for ongoing monitoring
  • be the Lead Worker during the first month, if the child or young person is not a current client of Ministry of Education Special Education
  • work with the classroom kaiako/teacher on strategies to ensure the child/young person settles and succeeds in class
  • work with the classroom kaiako/teacher to ensure the identified education needs are met
  • undertake any assessments that may be necessary
  • be a key member of the inter-agency group and work to strengthen the link between education and other agencies supporting the child, including the Ministry of Health
  • work with the kaiako/teacher to complete the Education Profile and return it to the Child, Youth and Family Social Worker and the Gateway Assessment Coordinator
  • provide on-going high quality education information and feedback to the social worker
  • contribute to the development of the Inter-agency Child Development Agreement.

Refer to the

Gateway Guide for Education Professionals (November 2015) (PDF, 798 KB)

Bilingual Assessments

The Bilingual Assessment

A bilingual assessment can distinguish whether an ESOL student has language learning needs or additional special learning and social/emotional needs, through a dual assessment in their first language and English.

The Migrant, Refugee, and International Education Team at the Ministry of Education have trained RTLB as bilingual assessors. The RTLB Bilingual Assessors work with a bilingual assistant in the child’s first language to determine if further support is needed for the student over and above the language learning needs. This may include learning and behaviour support by a RTLB. Lead Assessors are spread across the regions and assess students across clusters.

For information including eligibility, frequently asked questions, and application forms, visit Bilingual Assessment Service (BAS) 

RTLB role with English Language Learners

Migrant and refugee background students with special education needs, including those who receive ESOL funding, are entitled to special education services available in New Zealand schools. They would need to meet the eligibility criteria for that particular service, for example:

  • RTLB and RT Lit support
  • Speech language therapy
  • ORS funding
  • International fee-paying students are not eligible for these services.
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

The Ministry of Education provides funding for schools to offer English language programmes to students who have English as an additional language. ESOL programmes are designed to help students develop their English language skills so they can start meeting the achievement objectives of English in the New Zealand Curriculum.

For general information on English language learners, visit English of Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

For further information, contact Tjitske.Hunter@education.govt.nz, 09 632 9356.

Special Assessment Conditions

Special Assessment Conditions (SAC) allows a student to get support in an assessment to remove barriers to achievement.

All applications require evidence that a student has one or more impairments that need assessment support and have been successfully using assistance to overcome them.

There are four categories of SAC:

  • Sensory e.g. hearing loss, vision impairment
  • Physical e.g. long term damage to writing hand or arm, conditions where you can't sit for a long time
  • Medical e.g. diabetes, anxiety, depression
  • Learning e.g. dyslexia

For more information, visit

Transitions               

RTLB have a role in supporting successful transitions for students into and between classes, schools, educational settings, RTLB clusters and services, and between teachers.

Guiding principles

A successful transition is:

  • planned and deliberate
  • based on information/data
  • individualised and differentiated for student, staff, school, and whānau/parents
  • built on strengths and success
  • inclusive and based on strong relationships.

Transitions are successful when students feel they belong in their new class or school, are positively connected to peers and teachers and when learning continues seamlessly from one setting to another.

RTLB role in transitions

During transition, RTLB support individual students and schools, and foster the relationship between the school and the student’s whānau/parents.  

Support for schools

RTLB support schools in the transition process through:

  • mentoring and coaching SENCo/learning support coordinators to refine transition processes in cluster schools
  • liaison RTLB encouraging them to identify early those students that may benefit from supported transitions
  • with whānau/parent consent, inform ‘receiving’ schools about transitioning students ahead of their arrival at school. 
Support for individual students and identified groups of students

Transition support is collaboratively planned and provided for students who are receiving RTLB service at critical transition points. RTLB:

  • include key stakeholders who are connected to the student in the transition planning process
  • initiate individualised transition planning to minimise ‘at risk’ factors
  • consider creating individual student profiles including photos and student and whānau/parent voice
  • consider, as part of the plan, the possible collegial support network for the receiving teacher
  • ensure that transition plans include students’ strengths and interests and successful teaching strategies
  • consider the optimal timing of transition activities
  • use innovative and flexible practices
  • foster student identity, language and culture e.g. taking a Māori potential approach. 
Support for the school whānau/parent partnership

To ensure the success of a transition, RTLB

  • provide regular information to families
  • foster constructive relationships with staff, students and whānau/parent
  • find ways to involve families/whānau so they can contribute to successful transition planning
  • establish key contacts for parents
  • allow enough time and space for culturally responsive communication
  • maintain relationships with whānau and introduce new team members through familiar personnel.
Seamless service transitions between Ministry of Education and RTLB
  • Clusters develop processes with their local Ministry of Education Special Education staff to ensure seamless transition between services e.g. early intervention to school, RTLB and Severe Behaviour/Communication teams.
  • Ministry of Education staff and RTLB may share a case (case-share) when students are moving to a new service provider.
Transitions between RTLB Clusters   

When a student moves from one cluster to another, clusters work collaboratively to ensure smooth transition processes:

  • RTLB request parent consent to share information
  • the cluster manager notifies receiving cluster manager
  • former and current RTLB make contact to share relevant information.

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