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The lead school board of trustees

Effective governance ensures the provision of a quality RTLB service for all cluster schools.


A board of trustees in each cluster is appointed to the RTLB lead school position by the Ministry of Education (Ministry) to provide the cluster’s RTLB service through a Funding Agreement (FA) with the Ministry. 

The Ministry works with cluster schools on the selection process to choose the lead school. The appointment of a lead school is for a specified term, reviewable in the final year of the agreement.

In addition to meeting the expectations in the FA, the lead school board (board) is expected to meet the requirements of the National Education Guidelines (NEGs) and the National Administration Guidelines (NAGs)

The board must also uphold the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and be committed to key Ministry policies and strategies.

These include the following policies:

Ka Hikitia – Ka Hāpaitia
THe refrehsed strategy of the Ministry of Education's plan to ensure all Māori students gain the skills, qualifications, and knowledge needed to achieve education success as Māori

Action Plan for Pasifika Education 2020-2030
Outlines actions the Government has established to ensure diverse Pacific learners and their families feel safe, valued, and equipped to achieve their education aspirations

Inclusive Education: Success for All
An overview of the Ministry of Education's scheme for building an inclusive education system. Under "Key Resources" is a download a PDF.

Disability Action Plan 2019-2023
Initiatives and priority work programmes developed and co-designed by government agencies, disabled people, and their representative organisations

Governance responsibilities

The Board will ensure a high quality and effective RTLB service is provided, the service is accessible to cluster schools and contributes to positive student outcomes and inclusive practices across all cluster schools.

  • cluster schools know how and when to access the service
  • cluster schools have equitable access to the full range of RTLB services and funding
  • the service is based on a comprehensive cluster needs analysis, is strategic and planned
  • the service works collaboratively with the Ministry to adapt RTLB services to the new learning support service delivery model
  • the service is seamlessly integrated with the service provided by Ministry Learning Support specialists
  • the service works collaboratively with government and non-government agencies to identify and respond to the needs of students
  • the service preserves the intent of the RTLB Professional Practice Toolkit
  • the service is well-documented; service outcomes are monitored, recorded and reported in accordance with Governing and Managing RTLB Clusters and the RTLB Professional Practice Toolkit
  • the service is continually improving, is responsive, flexible, and innovative
  • cluster schools/kura including those in Kāhui Ako use the service and value the service provided.

Note: Boards need assurance from the principal and cluster manager who are delegated to ensure a particular success measure is achieved.

National Priorities

The Board will ensure the cluster prioritises services to support the achievement of Māori and Pasific students and to support inclusive practices in schools/kura.

In addition, the Board will ensure the Government’s priorities and the Ministry’s annual service priorities and service expectations are embedded in the work of the service. The priorities may be varied by the Ministry of Education by 27 January each year over the term of the FSA to reflect any changes in Ministry policy or national priorities. 

  • When employing a new principal, responsibility for the RTLB service must be included in the advertisement. 
  • The Ministry’s Learning Support Manager should be on the appointment committee.
  • Ensure that the successful applicant is an experienced principal, leader, and manager and has the experience, skills, and commitment to manage both the school and the RTLB service.
  • Employ the cluster manager, RTLB, and any associated support staff.
  • Appoint a full-time acting cluster manager when the cluster manager is unable to fulfil the role such as when they are on extended leave or secondment.
  • Allocate leadership payments to the cluster manager and practice leaders.
  • Employ RTLB who are able to provide an effective service for all students, in all school and kura settings.

Appropriate authority and accountability is delegated to the principal and cluster manager (the RTLB strategic leadership and management team) for the day to day management of the RTLB cluster, RTLB funding and resourcing, and RTLB service provision.

  • Support the principal and cluster manager to maintain an effective professional working relationship.
  • Support the principal and cluster manager to maintain effective relationships with the RTLB.
  • Be assured that the RTLB are included as staff members in the lead school.
Use of funding
  • Responsible for the RTLB funds on behalf of cluster schools.
  • Approve the RTLB annual financial budget.
  • Ensure robust accounting practices for the use of RTLB funds; maintain a seperate bank account for RTLB funding; keep a separate RTLB asset register.
  • Be assured that there are transparent, needs based processes for allocating RTLB learning support funding to cluster schools.
  • Be assured that RTLB staff are housed in appropriate office accommodation.
  • Be assured that the cluster manager and principal have worked through the Ministry local property advisor to negotiate a third party occupancy agreement with each host school or accommodation provider.
Planning, review and reporting
  • Approve the cluster strategic plan and the annual action plan.
  • Submit the strategic and annual action plans to the Ministry as part of the lead school's charter documents, within expected timeframes.
  • Ensure the RTLB service is reviewed on a regular basis.
  • Report annually on the operation of the RTLB service, including a financial report, to the Ministry as part of the lead school's annual report, within expected timeframes.
  • Report twice a year to cluster kura and school boards on the use of RTLB student support funding, RTLB staffing levels, and RTLB service outputs and outcomes.
  • Ensure Ministry-specified reporting formats and templates are used.
Effective systemsKa Hikitia – Ka Hāpaitia – Education in New Zealand
  • Ensure that there are effective systems to support RTLB service provision in cluster schools.
  • Be assured that these systems take into account whānau and iwi needs and aspirations.
  • Ensure the school has effective employment systems to support the RTLB workforce.

Content last updated: March 2018