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Introduction to professional practice

The Ministry of Education and other education services, agencies and organisations including the Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) service are available to work alongside schools and kura to provide learning support when it is needed. Support includes system wide, targeted or individual support so that mokopuna with learning support needs, including disabilities are welcome and where their achievement, progress, wellbeing and participation is valued and supported.  RTLB work with families/whānau, teachers and schools/kura and clusters of schools to help mokopuna fulfil their learning potential when barriers they face exceed the support from general classroom education and related resources. 

RTLB teams (also known as ‘clusters’) are groups of itinerant, fully-registered specialist teachers who have the training and skills to provide the RTLB service. Each cluster has an allocated number of RTLB positionsand has a professional leadership structure (cluster manager and practice leaders) that ensures all RTLB provide an effective, quality service to schools/kura and clusters of schools. 

RTLB are responsible for providing the RTLB service in cluster schools/kura in accordance with the RTLB Professional Practice Toolkit, using He Pikorua as the practice frameworkThe Board of Trustees of each employing school ensures the Government’s priorities and the Ministry’s annual service priorities and service expectations described in the RTLB Funding Agreement are embedded in the work of the service. 

The key stakeholders in the RTLB service include:

a) cluster schools/kura including:

  • their teachers and students
  • their families and whānau 
  • their iwi and Māori parents/community 
  • their Pacific parents/community 
  • RTLB

b) regional Ministry of Education Learning Support. 

Some expectations about the RTLB role

There are core beliefs that underpin RTLB work:

  • the most effective way to make gains for mokopuna is by taking a holistic, strengths-based approach that enhances the mana of the individual and their community by focusing on their strengths and their potential to address challenges. RTLB work in partnership with educators and whānau to find solutions that support mokopuna. They build educators’ and schools’ inclusive practice.
  • support can be based on what best meets the needs of the mokopuna and their whānau in the context of their local learning and community environments.

RTLB facilitate change by:

  • adhering to the principles of He Pikorua
  • working collaboratively with others to provide practical support and advice
  • working as a member of a team to develop, share and achieve mutually agreed goals
  • keeping mokopuna and their whānau at the centre of decisions, actions and practices that affect their interests, goals and well-being  
  • using a holistic, strengths-based approach which enhances the mana of the individual and their community by focusing on their strengths and potential to address challenges
  • actively seeking to understand and respect the cultural beliefs of those they interact with
  • maintaining trusting, professional relationships within cluster schools/kura and with parents/whānau, communities and community agencies
  • following He Pikorua in action.

He Pikorua

He Pikorua is the practice framework for all practitioners who work across learning support within our inclusive education system.  Practitioners include RTLB and their managers, Ministry of Education Learning Support staff, and those in practice support roles. The guidance provided in He Pikorua allows RTLB to work together with others using the combined knowledge, experience, skills and professional expertise to support the achievement and wellbeing of our mokopuna.

He Pikorua focuses less on services and criteria, and more on joining up services to support mokopuna and the adults around them in ways that build on their strengths.

A word about the bigger picture

The Ministry of Education is the New Zealand Government’s lead advisor on the education system.  The Ministry’s purpose is to shape an education system that delivers equitable and excellent outcomes. 

RTLB contribute to the Ministry’s vision that every New Zealander:

  • is strong in their national and cultural identity
  • aspires for themselves and their children to achieve more
  • has the choice and opportunity to be the best they can be
  • is an active participant and citizen in creating a strong civil society
  • is productive, valued and competitive in the world. 

The refreshed Māori education strategy: Ka Hikitia sets out the strategic direction for Māori education and the actions that need to be taken across the Ministry, education agencies and the sector.  It sets out how the Ministry will work with education services to achieve system shifts in education and support Māori learners and their whānau, hapū and iwi to achieve excellent and equitable outcomes and provides an organising framework for the actions the Ministry will take.

The guiding principles are:

  • Excellent Outcomes: We will support Māori learners and their whānau to achieve excellent education outcomes
  • Belonging: We will ensure Māori learners and their whānau have a strong sense of belonging across our education system
  • Strengths-based: We will recognise and build on the strengths of Māori learners and their whānau
  • Productive Partnerships: We will support strong relationships between learners and whānau, hapū, iwi, educators and others to support excellent outcomes
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi: We will give practical effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi in the education system.

The Action Plan for Pacific Education 2020-2030 maps the Government’s commitment to transforming outcomes for Pacific learners and families and signals how early learning services, schools and tertiary providers can achieve change for Pacific learners and their families.

The Action Plan identifies five key shifts and a set of actions that are needed to achieve this vision:

  • work reciprocally with diverse Pacific communities to respond to unmet needs, with an initial focus on needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • confront systemic racism and discrimination in education;
  • enable every teacher, leader and educational professional to take coordinated action to become culturally competent with diverse Pacific learners;
  • partner with families to design education opportunities together with teachers, leaders and educational professionals so aspirations for learning and employment can be met; and
  • grow, retain and value highly competent teachers, leaders and educational professionals with diverse Pacific whakapapa.

The Learning Support Action Plan 2019-2025 identifies six priorities that will improve how the education system supports mokopuna to learn and responding to their unique strengths, interests, needs, identities, languages and cultures. The RTLB service is a critical component of the network of learning support provision. In collaboration with the Ministry and other key learning support providers, the RTLB service has a pivotal role in supporting system level improvements.

The New Zealand Curriculum sets out a vision for all of our young people to become confident, connected, actively involved lifelong learners.