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There are eight principles guiding RTLB practice:

1. Inclusive education

2. Culturally responsive

3. Ecological

4. Collaborative and seamless model of service

5. Strengths based

6. Reflective

7. Evidence based

8. Professional

1. Inclusive Education

Recognising and valuing the diversity and contribution of all children and young people.  RTLB assist schools/kura, Kāhui Ako, and teachers/kaiako to develop:

  • effective classroom environments that enhance learning, behaviour, self-identity, participation and contribution
  • strategies for identifying and breaking down barriers to inclusion in the least intrusive way. 

For more information, visit the Ministry of Education website. The website Inclusive Education (Guides for schools) provides New Zealand educators with practical strategies, suggestions and resources to support the diverse needs of all learners. 

2. Culturally responsive

New Zealand communities are diverse, with many different cultures, ethnic, religious and socio-economic  groups.  RTLB understand and respect the social and cultural influences on learning in the multi-cultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand. They work to strengthen confidence in cultural identity and the connection to parents, families/whānau and school/kura communities.

The RTLB service supports the identified needs of students in their communities by:

  • appreciating the diversity that individual RTLB bring to their cluster
  • increasing the cultural competence of the RTLB workforce.

RTLB practice will:

  • develop positive, culturally responsive relationships with students and their families/whānau
  • use practices that reflect learners’ cultural values, knowledge and ways of learning
  • empower students from all cultures to succeed.

This principle places importance on cultural knowledge and understanding and the right of Māori to define, protect, promote and control all their tāonga and resources.  RTLB develop relationships with Māori whānau and community members so they can actively participate in the decision-making process to improve the achievement of Māori students.

Interventions involving Māori students should take the Māori potential approach and emphasise the importance of language, identity, culture and sharing knowledge in partnership with students, parents, families/whānau and teachers/kaiako.

RTLB practice will contribute to accelerating Māori student achievement by:

  • identifying the needs of Māori children and young people within the cluster
  • identify and develop RTLB who have the skills and knowledge to work in Māori medium settings
  • working for and with parents, families/whānau, iwi and hapū and delivering a culturally responsive service.
The Treaty of Waitangi

 RTLB practice is in accordance with the principles in the three articles of the Treaty:

  • partnership (article one) by working effectively with iwi and other Māori providers involved with a student
  • protection (article two) by valuing children as tāonga
  • participation (article three) by ensuring whānau and families have the opportunity to participate in the process.

RTLB recognise, value and respond to the needs of Māori by incorporating the competencies within “Tātaiako – cultural competencies for teachers of Māori learners”. The competencies are:

  • Wānanga: participating with learners and communities in robust dialogue for the benefit of Māori learners’ achievement.
  • Whanaungatanga: actively engaging in respectful working relationships with Māori learners, parents, whānau/families, hapū, iwi and the Māori community.
  • Manaakitanga: demonstrating integrity, sincerity and respect towards Māori beliefs, language and culture.
  • Tangata Whenuatanga: affirming Māori learners as Māori. Providing contexts for learning where the language, identity and culture of Māori learners and their whānau is affirmed.
  • Ako: taking responsibility for own learning and that of Māori learners.
  • Recognising, valuing and responding to the needs of Pasifika learners.
  • Ensuring culture and identity are acknowledged and valued and shape the work of RTLB.
The Maori Education Strategy: Ka Hikitia

Ka Hikitia is the Ministry of Education’s strategy to improve the performance of the education system for and with Māori. It emphasises the importance of a Māori potential approach in education and focuses on:

  • realising potential
  • identifying opportunity
  • investing in people and local solutions, communities or networks of provision
  • tailoring education to the learner
  • indigeneity and distinctiveness
  • collaborating and co-constructing.

Ka Hikitia also emphasises the importance of ako.

Ako describes a teaching and learning relationship where the educator is also learning from the student in a two-way process and where educators’ practices are informed by the latest research and are both deliberate and reflective.  Ako is grounded in the principle of reciprocity and also recognises that students and their whānau cannot be separated (Ka Hikitia, p.16).

For more information about the Māori education strategy: Ka Hikitia, visit the Ministry website.

Framework for Success for Māori

Framework for Success for Maori (PDF, 250 KB)

OHOOHO Self-management: Managing one's values and assumptions and using Māori values to help achieve them.

TU MAIA Self-awareness: Recognising one's own cultural values and assumptions and how they may influence our actions.

WHANAUNGATANGA Relationship Skills: Forming positive relationships through the use of cultural values and practices.

NOHO AO Social and Cultural Awareness: Showing understanding and empathy for understanding Māori students and their parents, families/whānau.

KOTAHITANGA Responsible Decision-making: Making culturally ethical, constructive choices from the Māori evidence collated.

Working with Pasifika

The Pasifika Education Plan (PEP) is aimed at raising Pasifika learners’ participation, engagement and achievement from early learning through to tertiary education.  PEP puts Pasifika learners, their parents, families and communities at the centre, so that all activities ensure the Ministry of Education and Education Partner Agencies are responding to the identities, languages and cultures of each Pasifika group (p.3).

Pasifika students come from a range of Pacific islands each with unique cultural and language identities. Interventions involving Pasifika students must be appropriate for their unique cultures. It cannot be assumed that what is appropriate for one Pasifika culture will be appropriate for all Pasifika cultures.

For more information, visit the Ministry website, Pasifika Education Plan.

Collaborating with families/whānau

RTLB interventions should acknowledge the family’s aspirations for their child’s education. Families/whānau should:

  • be actively engaged and involved in all aspects of the process
  • feel encouraged and empowered in their knowledge and decision-making.

Communication with families should be culturally appropriate, for example:

  • accessing an interpreter if necessary
  • involving appropriate liaison people from the community
  • establishing and building on positive relationships. 

3. Ecological

The students’ needs and the programmes, interventions and support provided must be understood and shaped within the context of the students’ current learning environments. Using an ecological approach to the interventions means the student's learning and behaviour is assessed within the normal routines, interactions and practices of their classroom and school/kura.

The ecological view is that:

  • the student and their learning environment relate to and define each other]
  • learning is an on-going,  interactive and contextualised process
  • learning behaviour should be considered in the larger cultural context in order to properly understand the assessment.
  • any mismatch between students’ physical, interpersonal and learning environments and student characteristics and needs is identified.  

4. Collaborative and seamless model of service

This principle is about consulting and working with Ministry Learning Support, schools/kura and Kāhui Ako, teachers/kaiako, students/akonga, families/whānau and communities and professional communities of practice, to put in place effective strategies and programmes to achieve mutually agreed goals.  RTLB value open communication and sharing of knowledge.

The key to this principle is placing the student at the centre and asking 'How can we best meet the needs of this student?'

Collaborative consultation involves:

  • negotiating, facilitating and supporting schools/kura to make sustainable change             
  • parents, families/whānau contributing information and being involved in the development of goals
  • working with teachers/kaiako to build capability and knowledge to provide effective learning environments for all children and young people
  • encouraging learner participation in planning their progression and evaluating their learning
  • team members using a collaborative, proactive and solutions focussed framework as described in the RTLB practice sequence
  • co-construction of goals and interventions.

Seamless inter-professional practice is when professionals learn with, from and about each other to strengthen their own professional identity and practice and to collaboratively improve outcomes for all.  This involves:

  • RTLB, Ministry of Education Learning Support and agencies from different professional backgrounds working together with families/whānau and schools/kura and Kāhui Ako to support improved outcomes for students/tamariki
  • all members of the team participating and relying upon one another to accomplish common goals
  • maximising the strengths and skills of all team members
  • developing and maintaining professional, trusting and respectful relationships
  • communicating with clarity and openness
  • facilitating interaction, exchange and co-reflection of the inter-professional team
  • supporting transition between RTLB, Ministry of Education Learning Support and other agencies
  • improving practice within each profession to better support and complement that of others.

5. Strengths based

RTLB value all people involved in facilitating improved outcomes for children and young people and seek to maximise their potential and participation. This principle is about finding solutions by looking at the strengths and resources of:

  • learners
  • parents, whānau/families
  • teachers/kaiako
  • the school/kura
  • iwi. 

Intervention goals should:

  • acknowledge and enhance strengths
  • strengthen cultural identity
  • focus on the future and not the past
  • rekindle hope
  • facilitate change
  • be sustainable
  • enhance the motivation, capability and capacity of the collaborative team.

6. Reflective

Recognising and valuing the importance of evaluating practice for future improvement, RTLB keep records of each step in the practice sequence as per cluster protocols. This allows RTLB to continuously reflect on their practice to ensure fidelity to programmes and better outcomes for children and young people.  RTLB evaluate their professional practice:

  • in terms of the match between the RTLB's behaviour and their intentions
  • in terms of the outcomes achieved for students/tamariki, parents, families/whānau and school communities
  • with reference to established theory and examples of exemplary practice.

7. Evidence based

Visible throughout the RTLB practice sequence, Evidence Based Practice (EBP) is an integral part of RTLB work. Opportunities for collaboration with colleagues and whānau focus on strengths, data, best evidence, and what works.  RTLB use evidence-based interventions as they provide more effective support for children and young people, families/whānau, teachers/kaiako and school communities (Effective RTLB Practice, 2011). RTLB support those involved with the learner and enable them to integrate new learning with existing knowledge, skills and experience engage all learners within the context of the classroom.

RTLB interventions should demonstrate evidence-based practice. Evidence Based Practice is 'the data we select – the relevant information that we notice from the external research work and from our own practice – and the interpretations we make from that data.' (Policy Implementation and Cognition: Reframing and Refocusing Implementation Research 2002).

The process of interpretation is one of sense making: asking questions about the data to create new and useful knowledge. Spillane, Reiser, and Reimer (2002) identify four steps in the sense-making process:

  • Noticing
  • Framing
  • Interpreting
  • Constructing meaning

This takes time, effort and the use of prior knowledge. It becomes a dynamic interaction of research evidence, practitioner expertise and the voice of teacher/whānau/student.

Useful evidence helps provide answers to the questions or hypotheses being investigated. This means that the tools and approaches used to gather data must relate to the purpose of the inquiry and the context in which it is taking place. Inquiry can draw on informal evidence, such as observations and interviews, and formal evidence, such as standardised achievement data. Related research findings by others from outside the immediate context are another valuable source of evidence, provided it too is collected and actively interpreted for the purpose and the context (Inquiry and Evidence Based Practice).

Other models of evidence based practice


Teaching as Inquiry

RTLB practice fits within the Inquiry Cycle and each stage is visible within the RTLB practice sequence.

The following considerations are critical when planning an inquiry cycle:

  • decide how to gather evidence
  • decide how to critically analyse data
  • the collaborative process and activities scaffold learning. 

Teacher and student inquiry cycles may occur alongside the RTLB inquiry cycle:

  • student learning needs
  • learning needs of teacher/school
  • RTLB learning needs, inquiry question, beliefs and assumptions
  • Learning experiences, RTLB colleague/critical friend observations, professional literature
  • RTLB practice changes
  • teacher practice changes
  • impact for students.
Springboards to Practice

Springboards to Practice were developed as part of the Enhancing Effective Practice Special Education project.

'The Springboards weave research information together with student, parent and teacher voices into practical teaching suggestions'. Evidence is considered from the following sources:

  • professional practitioners
  • from whānau/families and young people about their lived experience
  • from research (national and international)
  • from RTLB inquiry (local action research).

(Ministry of Education, 2005)

8. Professional

The Code of Professional Responsibility and Standards for the Teaching Profession

The Code of Professional Responsibility replaced the Code of Ethics from 30 June 2017 and applies to all certificated teachers and those who have been granted a Limited Authority to Teach, in every role and teaching context.  It is a set of aspirations for professional behaviour. 

The Standards for the Teaching Profession provide holistic descriptions of what quality teaching looks like in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The values of whakamana, manaakitanga, pono and whanaungatanga underpin Our Code, Our Standards.  They define, inspire and guide us as teachers. 

For more information, visit the Education Council website https://educationcouncil.org.nz/content/our-code-our-standards

As itinerating specialist resource teachers, RTLB work across schools within a cluster.  Each of the 40 clusters are employed by a lead school board of trustees and are therefore subject to the lead school employment policies and protocols.  RTLB are employed under primary, secondary or area school collective/individual employment contracts 

RTLB act ethically, promoting positive values and maintaining and raising professional standards. They do this by:

gaining ongoing written, informed consent from families/whānau and/or caregivers during case work

familiarising themselves with relevant school policies and procedures relating to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people

following cluster policies and protocols

adhering to relevant school policies and procedures related to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.


RTLB must comply with the Privacy Act 1993 and the Health Information Privacy Code 1994 when dealing with personal information.

For information about sharing information about vulnerable children, visit the Privacy Commissioner website.

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015

RTLB must comply with their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

For additional information visit WorkSafe website https://worksafe.govt.nz/managing-health-and-safety/getting-started/understanding-the-law/