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Scope of practice

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

The Ministry of Education provides resourcing to school boards of trustees for RTLB to provide high quality and effective learning and behaviour services for schools/kura and Kāhui Ako within a cluster. RTLB support teachers, schools/kura and Kāhui Ako to develop inclusive classroom environments that enhance students’ learning, participation and wellbeing

RTLB practice responds to school initiated requests for support and to current Ministry of Education priorities as outlined in the Funding Agreement between each of the lead schools and the Ministry.  

RTLB follow the learning support delivery model where this is in place. The six elements of this model are:

  • Family and whānau connection points – Families and whānau have someone they can rely on, who knows about their learning needs, and will co-ordinate assistance when they need it. 
  • One plan – The purpose of the single plan is to provide joined up and tailored service to better support the child or young person’s individual learning support needs. 
  • Working together – All local education and service providers work together alongside the family and whānau to identify learning support needs, and work out how resources can be used most effectively within the locality to meet those needs.
  • More flexibility – Local learning support providers and decision-makers use their judgement, based on their knowledge of the child or young person, to enable tailored access to learning support. 
  • Better facilitation – A designated facilitator convenes learning support stakeholders, provides a central point of contact, and connects in wider social services as required.
  • Sharing data – Schools and kura, early childhood education (ECE) me ngā kōhanga reo, and services within a locality share data and information on learning support needs and services.  The data is used to build a clear picture of the local population of learners including their strengths, needs and priorities. 

The scope of RTLB practice includes:  

  • individual, group,school, or group of schools/Kāhui Ako cases
  • cluster projects
  • inclusive practice professional development for teachers
  • supporting student transitions
  • working with Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako
  • supporting children and young people who are new to the care of Oranga Tamariki
  • Children’s Teams
  • Bilingual assessments  
  • supporting secondary schools to establish systems to identify and make applications for students likely to benefit from SAC
  • Positive Behaviour for Learning (School Wide PB4L, Incredible Years Teacher)
  • Students attending Alternative Education (AE)

Alternative Education (AE) is for learners aged 13–15 years. ALL learners enrolled in state, state integrated schools and charter schools, regardless of where they are being taught, should have access to RTLB.

RTLB are not expected to provide services to foreign fee-paying students as they are not resourced to do so.

RTLB have a professional obligation to develop and maintain professional relationships with a diverse range of learners, parents/whānau, caregivers, teachers, schools/kura, Kāhui Ako and other agencies. RTLB maintain close relationships with cluster schools/kura and Kāhui Ako and SENCo/learning support coordinators through the school liaison. RTLB are culturally responsive practitioners. They strengthen connections with communities, marae, hapū and iwi.

Requests for RTLB support for individual students, groups of students or for schools’/kura and groups of schools/Kāhui Ako inclusive practices come from class/subject teachers and from SENCo/learning support coordinators or heads of learning support in accordance with cluster and school processes.  

RTLB preserve the intent of the RTLB Toolkit including the practice sequence while ensuring the needs of learners are met. They adhere to the Principles of Practice, and build teacher and school confidence, knowledge and skills.  

During school liaison and casework RTLB support schools/kura and Kāhui Ako 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) 
  • Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS)

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

To ensure a seamless provision of service to schools, RTLB and Ministry of Education Learning Support staff work in partnership. Equitable roles and responsibilities are negotiated, clarified and agreed when cases are co-worked. 

Tasks outside the scope of RTLB practice include:

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

Children’s Teams

A better future for vulnerable children is at the heart of both the Children’s Action Plan and the Vulnerable Children Act 2014, which together make significant changes to how we protect and improve the wellbeing of children. 

Children’s teams have been established around the country under the Children’s Action Plan. The teams bring together health, education, welfare and social service agencies to ensure one personalised plan for each vulnerable child and their family/whanau. In some cases, this will involve RTLB. See the Ministry of Health's website for information.

Team are established in Rotorua, Whangarei, Horowhenua/Otaki, Marlborough, Hamilton, Tairāwhiti, Eastern Bay of Plenty, Whanganui, Canterbury and Counties Manukau.

For more information on the children's team read or download:

Ministry of Education's

Childrens's Teams: Guidelines for RTLB (PDF, 328 KB)

Oranga Tamariki's

Children's Action Plan: Progress Report, December 2015 (PDF, 4 MB)

Visit the Ministry of Education's website for further information about the requirements for schools and kura.

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 there is interagency agreement on how best to address their needs
  • 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 students new to care RTLB will:

  • facilitate a joint-agency meeting within 0–4 days
  • develop a plan that addresses the immediate needs of the child or young person and covers the first month with provision for ongoing monitoring
  • be the Lead Worker during the first month, if the child or young person is not a current client of Ministry of Education Learning Support. 
  • work with the classroom teacher/kaiako on strategies to ensure the child/young person settles and succeeds in class
  • work with the classroom teacher/kaiako to ensure the identified education needs are met
  • undertake any assessments that may be necessary
  • 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
  • work with the teacher/kaiako to complete the Education Profile and return it to the Oranga Tamariki Social Worker and the Gateway Assessment Coordinator
  • provide on-going high-quality education information and feedback to the social worker
  • 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 children and young people 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 their needs without continued support from RTLB, then it is appropriate for RTLB to discontinue their involvement.

Refer to the

Service Specification - Gateway Assessment

The Bilingual Assessment (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. The 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. The 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.

For information including eligibility, frequently asked questions, and application forms, visit Bilingual Assessment Service (BAS) 

RTLB role with English Language Learners

Migrant and refugee background children and young people with additional learning needs, including those who receive ESOL funding, are entitled to learning support services available in New Zealand schools/kura if they meet the eligibility criteria for that service, for example:

  • RTLB  
  • RT Lit
  • Speech language therapy
  • ORS funding.

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

English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)

The Ministry of Education provides funding for schools/kura to offer English language programmes to students who have English as an additional language. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programmes are designed to help students develop their English language skills so they can start meeting the achievement objectives of English in the New Zealand Curriculum.

For general information on English language learners, visit English of Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

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

Special Assessment Conditions

RTLB assist schools/wharekura to establish systems to identify students likely to benefit from Special Assessment Conditions (SAC) and to gather evidence for making SAC applications.

RTLB contribute to a consistent spread of students across all cluster secondary schools/wharekura who are approved by NZQA for SAC.

Special Assessment Conditions (SAC) provide extra support for approved students 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 evidence that a student has one or more conditions or difficulties that need assessment support and have been successfully using assistance to overcome them.

There are four categories of SAC:

  • Sensory e.g. hearing loss, vision impairment
  • Physical e.g. long term damage to writing hand or arm, conditions where you can't sit for a long time
  • Medical e.g. diabetes, anxiety, depression
  • Learning e.g. dyslexia

For more information, visit the Ministry of Education website.

For more information on SAC, visit the NZQA website's section: Special Assessment Conditions.

PB4L School-Wide and Incredible Years Teacher Programmes

RTLB work collaboratively with the Ministry to plan and delivery programmes to meet local needs. RTLB are trained to deliver the Incredible Years Teacher (IYT) programme and some attain IYT accreditation.

Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS)

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

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.


RTLB have a role in supporting successful transitions for students into and between classes, schools, educational settings, RTLB clusters and services, and between teachers.

Guiding principles

A successful transition is:

  • planned and deliberate
  • based on information/data
  • individualised and differentiated for student, staff, school, and whānau/parents
  • built on strengths and success
  • inclusive and based on strong relationships.

Transitions are successful when students feel they belong in their new class or school, are positively connected to peers and teachers and when learning continues seamlessly from one setting to another.

RTLB role in transitions

During transition, RTLB support individual students and schools, and foster the relationship between the school and the student’s whānau/parents.  

Support for schools

RTLB support schools in the transition process through:

  • mentoring and coaching SENCo/learning support coordinators to refine transition processes in cluster schools
  • liaison RTLB encouraging them to identify early those students that may benefit from supported transitions
  • with whānau/parent consent, inform ‘receiving’ schools about transitioning students ahead of their arrival at school. 
Support for individual students and identified groups of students

Transition support is collaboratively planned and provided for students who are receiving RTLB service at critical transition points. RTLB:

  • include key stakeholders who are connected to the student in the transition planning process
  • initiate individualised transition planning to minimise ‘at risk’ factors
  • consider creating individual student profiles including photos and student and whānau/parent voice
  • consider, as part of the plan, the possible collegial support network for the receiving teacher
  • ensure that transition plans include students’ strengths and interests and successful teaching strategies
  • consider the optimal timing of transition activities
  • use innovative and flexible practices
  • foster student identity, language and culture e.g. taking a Māori potential approach. 
Support for the school whānau/parent partnership

To ensure the success of a transition, RTLB

  • provide regular information to families
  • foster constructive relationships with staff, students and whānau/parent
  • find ways to involve families/whānau so they can contribute to successful transition planning
  • establish key contacts for parents
  • allow enough time and space for culturally responsive communication
  • maintain relationships with whānau and introduce new team members through familiar personnel.
Seamless service transitions between Ministry of Education and RTLB
  • Clusters develop processes with their local Ministry of Education Learning Support staff to ensure seamless transition between services e.g. early intervention to school, RTLB and Severe Behaviour/Communication teams.
  • Ministry of Education staff and RTLB may share a case (case-share) when students are moving to a new service provider.
Transitions between RTLB Clusters   

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

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