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Introduction to professional practice

The Ministry of Education and other education services, agencies, and organisations – such as 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. This approach ensures mokopuna who have learning support needs or disabilities are welcomed. Furthermore, their achievement and progress is acknowledged, and their wellbeing and participation is supported.  

RTLB work with families, whānau, teachers, schools, kura, and clusters of schools to help mokopuna fulfil their learning potential, especially when barriers they face are greater than the support available in general classroom education and the 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 positions and 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. 

Using He Pikorua as the practice framework, RTLB are responsible for providing the RTLB service in cluster schools and kura in accordance with the RTLB Professional Practice ToolkitThe 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 are the regional Ministry of Education Learning Support cluster schools and kura. 

Those considered stakeholders in the cluster schools and kura include:

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

Some expectations about the RTLB role

Core beliefs that underpin RTLB work include the following.

First, take a holistic approach.

Taking a holistic, strengths-based approach that enhances the mana of the individual and their community is the most effective way to make gains for mokopuna.

Focus on their strengths and their potential to address challenges.

The holistic approach means RTLB work in partnership with educators and whānau to find solutions that support mokopuna.

They build educators’ and schools’ inclusive practice.

Second, base support on what best meets the needs of the mokopuna and their whānau in the context of their local learning and community environments.

How RTLB facilitate change

They adhere to and action the principles of He Pikorua.

They work collaboratively to provide practical support and advice; they are team-players who develop, share, and achieve goals.

They seek to understand the cultural beliefs of others, and they respect these.

They keep mokopuna and their whānau at the centre of decisions, actions, and practices.

To enhance the mana of the individual and their community, RTLB use a holistic, strengths-based approach; they focus on the what individuals can do and on their potential.

They maintain trusting, professional relationships within cluster schools and kura and with parents, whānau, communities, and community agencies.

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
  • aspiring for themselves and their children to achieve more
  • provided the choice and opportunity to be the best they can be
  • an active participant and citizen in creating a strong civil society
  • 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 following are the guiding principles.

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.

These include:

  • work reciprocally with diverse Pacific communities and:
    • respond to unmet needs
    • initially, 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
  • grow, retain, and value highly competent teachers, leaders and educational professionals with diverse Pacific whakapapa.


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.