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Scope of practice

RTLB provide universal, targeted and individualised support so that mokopuna with learning support needs, including those with disabilities are welcome and where their achievement, progress, wellbeing and participation is valued and supported.

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

The Ministry is strengthening the way that learning support is provided through the Learning Support Delivery Model (LSDM) so that all mokopuna can get the best from their learning and time in education.

The LSDM organises learning support around what best meets the needs of all mokopuna with learning support needs across a local community, including those who are neurodiverse, gifted and those at risk of disengaging from education.

The LSDM brings together groups of education providers in a community – local clusters of early learning services, kōhanga reo, schools and Māori medium kura – with other government agencies and service providers, to identify local needs and resources, and plan support based on the evidence of what we know works, and what is best to support individual or groups of mokopuna to learn. 

This could include developing systems and processes to ensure seamless transition of mokopuna from early learning services to school and from primary to secondary settings. 

Ministry and RTLB work together when the needs of mokopuna are complex. Roles and responsibilities are negotiated, clarified and agreed when cases are co-worked.

The tiered support model (also known as the Response to Intervention model) is a robust evidence-informed approach and provides a framework for identifying supports which increase in intensity, depending on the needs and the context.

The three tiers of support are generally described as universal (Tier 1), targeted (Tier 2), and individualised (Tier 3). 

The model is designed to be dynamic and integrated, rather than a linear progression from one tier to the next.

Supports and interventions can be used from any of the three tiers at any time (alone or in combination). However, universal approaches will be the first step in responding to the diverse needs of mokopuna. 

Requests for RTLB support at the three tiers come through RTLB and Ministry agreed processes and can include:

  • professional development for teachers
  • supporting student transitions
  • working with clusters of schools
  • supporting mokopuna who are new to the care of Oranga Tamariki
  • working with Children’s Teams
  • Bilingual assessments
  • supporting secondary schools to establish systems to identify and make applications for mokopuna likely to benefit from Special Assessment Conditions (SAC)
  • Positive Behaviour for Learning (School Wide PB4L, Incredible Years Teacher, Incredible Years Autism)
  • supporting mokopuna attending Alternative Education (AE).

RTLB have a professional obligation to develop and maintain professional relationships with a diverse range of learners, parents, whānau, caregivers, teachers, schools, kura, and other agencies.

RTLB maintain close relationships and work collaboratively with cluster schools, kura, and SENCo/learning support coordinators where they are in place. 

RTLB are culturally responsive practitioners. They strengthen connections with communities, marae, hapū, and iwi.

Alternative Education (AE) is for learners aged 13-15 years. All learners enrolled in state or state integrated schools, regardless of where they are being taught, should have access to RTLB support. RTLB are not expected to provide services to foreign fee-paying mokopuna as they are not resourced to do so.

During school liaison and casework RTLB support schools/kura with applications to other specialists and initiatives including, but not limited to:

  • speech language therapists
  • psychologists
  • paediatricians
  • audiologists
  • Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)
  • Assistive Technology (AT). 

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

Tasks outside the scope of RTLB practice include:

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

Transitions between RTLB Clusters

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

A well-run transition process one where:

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

Clusters of schools including Kāhui Ako

The RTLB service works collaboratively with the learning support facilitator function within clusters of schools to identify those mokopuna who have additional needs.

Getting ready for the standardised Learning Support Register (sLSR) 
A use-for-purpose tool that explains what clusters’ and individual education services can do to use sLSR

RTLB work flexibly with others to provide the most appropriate response to support the achievement of mokopuna, including strengthening teachers’ confidence to manage their diverse needs. 

Secondary School/wharekura

RTLB engage with and provide an effective and responsive service within secondary school/wharekura environments to support students in Years 9 and 10.

RTLB keep the relevant Deans, Heads of Departments (HODs) and/or Heads of Faculty (HOFs) informed in advance of all formal activities they undertake that involve teachers, kaiako, mokopuna, and ākonga. Activities could include such things as the development of collaborative action plans and modelling of best practice.

Special Assessment Conditions (SAC)

RTLB assist schools and kura to establish systems to identify mokopuna likely to benefit from SAC and to gather evidence for making SAC applications.

RTLB contribute to a consistent spread of mokopuna across all cluster secondary schools and kura who are approved by NZQA for SAC.

Special Assessment Conditions (SAC) provide extra support for approved mokopuna when they are being assessed for their National Certificate Educational Achievement (NCEA) so that barriers to achievement can be removed and they then have a fair opportunity to achieve credits. 

The support is used for internal standards and external (exams) standards. 

All applications require confirmation by the school that a student has one or more conditions or difficulties that need assessment support and has been successfully using assistance to overcome them.

The four categories of SAC are:

  • Sensory such as hearing loss, visual impairment 
  • Physical such as long-term damage to a writing hand or arm
  • Medical such as diabetes, anxiety, depression
  • Learning such as dyslexia.

NZQA Special Assessment Conditions
Includes information for schools, students, parents and caregivers, and registered professionals.

Ministry of Education Special Assessment Conditions (SAC)
Learn about Special Assessment Conditions (SAC)

The site has guidelines for heads of learning support, E-learning module for reader/writers, and details about how to apply for SAC.

Assistive Technology (AT)

Ministry of Education Assistive Technology
Details specialised equipment students with additional learning needs use in class

RTLB can support schools make applications for AT. 

The site has information for schools or specialist assessors who are considering applying for assistive technology to support their students.

Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)

RTLB support schools by providing assessment data (formative, observational, etc) they may have collected over the course of the learning support provided. Baseline and outcome data from RTLB will add to teachers’ Overall Teacher Judgements (OTJ) and form a holistic picture of a child or young person in their education setting.

RTLB’s thorough knowledge of the ORS guidelines enables them to support schools to decide if a student meets one of the nine ORS eligibility criteria and where appropriate to complete the application process following the clear prompts provided on the application form.

Apply for Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)
Information about ORS for students with high or very high ongoing needs for learning support.

This page provides information about how to apply.

PB4L School-Wide and Incredible Years Teacher Programmes

RTLB work collaboratively with the Ministry to plan and deliver programmes to meet local needs.

RTLB are trained to deliver the Incredible Years Teacher (IYT) programme and some attain IYT accreditation. Some RTLB clusters offer Incredible Years Autism (IYA) programmes.

Te Kahu Tōī Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS)

RTLB in conjunction with schools/kura and Ministry of Education Learning Support make IWS applications for eligible mokopuna.

RTLB may be in the lead worker role when a student is accepted into IWS and remain engaged throughout the wraparound process for as long as is needed.

Residential Specialist School (RSS) only Pathway

Residential Specialist School enrolment – RSS only pathway
Information for schools about the process and procedures to enrol a student in a residential specialist school via the RSS only pathway

A young person can now enrol in a residential specialist school (RSS) through this new pathway.

All applications are made through the young person’s learning support provider in their home region.

This could be a Ministry specialist, an RTLB, a day special school, or a fund-holder school. RTLB remaining engaged throughout the enrolment period is required to support transition and if any issues arise for the student while they are enrolled and attending an RSS.

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 care, the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health developed the Gateway Assessment process. 

The aim is to:

  • identify the health and education needs of children in care
  • ensure interagency agreement on how best to address their needs is in place
  • 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.

For those mokopuna new to care, RTLB will facilitate a joint-agency meeting within one to four day and develop a plan that addresses the immediate needs of the child or young person and covers the first month with provision for ongoing monitoring.

Likewise, RTLB will be the Lead Worker during the first month. Please note that if the child or young person is already in receipt of Ministry of Education Learning Support services, the relevant Learning Support specialist will be designated Lead Worker.

Other RTLB responsibilities regarding those new to care are they will work with the classroom teacher and kaiako on strategies to ensure the child/young person settles and succeeds in class, ensure the identified education needs are met, and undertake any assessments that may be necessary. RTLB will 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.

Working with the teacher and kaiako, RTLB will complete the Education Profile, return the profile to the Oranga Tamariki Social Worker and the Gateway Assessment Coordinator, provide on-going high-quality education information and feedback to the social worker, and contribute to the development of the Inter-Agency Service Agreement (ISA).

The most important factor to consider when determining whether RTLB should continue to support mokopuna who have had a Gateway Assessment completed is whether the needs of the child or young person are being managed.

If the child’s school is confident to manage those needs without continued support from RTLB, then it is appropriate for RTLB to discontinue their involvement.

Oranga Tamariki Gateway Assessments
Information about what a gateway assessment is, when and how to use it, guidance, and resources.

The resources provided include Gateway Assessments for caregivers and for parents and guardians.

Children’s Teams

Oranga Tamariki are currently shifting Children’s Teams to a new, community based approach.

As this shift takes place, the Children’s Teams will continue to operate. Referrals will continue to come to Oranga Tamariki, who in turn will contact and involve relevant specialists (including RTLB) to support at risk mokopuna.

Oranga Tamariki Children's Teams
Information about the Children’s Teams and new community based approach and about support programmes

Bilingual Assessment Service (BAS)

A bilingual assessment can distinguish whether an English language learner (ELL) has language learning needs or additional 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 provided bilingual assessor training for RTLB.

RTLB Bilingual Assessors work with a bilingual assistant in the child’s first language to assess a learner’s functioning and achievement in their first language, and collect information about social and emotional health, and other factors that might be affecting their performance at school. 

An RTLB assessor prepares a report that summarises the information gathered from the assessment and recommends ways to meet the learner’s needs. This may include learning and behaviour support by an RTLB.

Bilingual Assessment Service (BAS)
Learn about the Bilingual Assessment Service and how to obtain its assistance

The site has information including eligibility, frequently asked questions, and application forms.

RTLB role with English Language Learners

Migrant and refugee background mokopuna with additional learning needs, including those who receive ESOL funding, are entitled to learning support services available in New Zealand schools and kura.

If they meet the eligibility criteria for that service, they qualify for:

  • RTLB 
  • RT Lit
  • Speech language therapy
  • Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding.

International fee-paying mokopuna are not eligible for these services.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

The Ministry of Education provides funding for schools and kura to offer English language programmes to mokopuna who have English as an additional language.

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programmes are designed to help mokopuna develop their English language skills so they can start meeting the achievement objectives of English in the New Zealand Curriculum.

Ministry of Education ESOL resources
Provides useful information and helpful resources for an ESOL programme

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