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How to become an RTLB

To become an RTLB, a teacher must:

  • be a trained teacher with full New Zealand teacher registration and a current practising certificate
  • have either:
    • attained or be working towards the RTLB qualification: Postgraduate Diploma in Specialist Teaching (Learning and Behaviour)
    • attained this qualification within four years of starting work as an RTLB
  • have the academic prerequisites to enter the PGDip Specialist Teaching programme (a relevant professional qualification and a New Zealand undergraduate degree or equivalent)
  • have experience working with students with learning and behaviour needs.

All RTLB must attain the RTLB qualification within four years of appointment. There is no exemption from RTLB training.


Massey University of New Zealand: Postgraduate Diploma in Specialist Teaching (Learning and Behaviour)
Advanced theoretical and research-based study of specialist teaching.

The focus of the course is on understanding, assessing and providing for learners who have learning and behaviour needs.


Postgraduate Diploma in Specialist Teaching (Learning and Behaviour)


Experienced teachers, who have applied for and won advertised RTLB positions within RTLB clusters, are expected to study for the Postgraduate Diploma in Specialist Teaching (Learning and Behaviour).

To be eligible to enrol in this qualification, RTLB require a New Zealand undergraduate degree and relevant professional qualifications.

What the qualification offers

The Postgraduate Diploma in Specialist Teaching (Learning and Behaviour) is one of eight endorsements within a wider special education needs qualification.

Those studying for this degree complete four papers: one core paper and three specialist papers. Teachers can complete the four papers part time over two years.

The papers for the Learning and Behaviour endorsement are listed below.

Year One

254.766 Professional Learning Pathways
249.753 Theory and Foundations of Learning and Behaviour Diversity

Year Two

254.767 Community-Based Practice
249.755 Practicum in Learning and Behaviour Diversity

All students, regardless of their specialist area, complete the core paper.

This is a generic course that covers the background knowledge for specialist teachers and facilitates a shared, collaborative approach.

The RTLB specialist paper in Year One covers the theory and practice of learning and behaviour. Students explore assessment and teaching strategies and the importance of evidence-based and ethical practice when working with teachers.

In Year Two students examine inter-professional evidence-based practice followed by a practicum. Each year there are two compulsory block courses held on various campuses.

This qualification caters for students in any area using flexible learning options, such as web-based learning, face-to-face interactions, and individual input. The approach is inquiry based and highly practical.

The intent of the programme is to develop communities of practice by encouraging interaction, communication, and collaboration across and within specialty disciplines, thus reducing the isolation that special education needs educators often experience.

By the end of the qualification, graduates will have developed the skills to:

  • work collaboratively with colleagues in a wider inter-professional community of practice
  • be culturally responsive
  • work with whānau/family
  • assess learning needs and strengths
  • approach the work on the basis of finding solutions
  • be reflective in their practice.

Study award

Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour Study Award
The Ministry offers a study award for existing RTLB to gain the qualification. 

The award covers the domestic tuition fee. A contribution to travel and accommodation for on-site courses for those who live more than 50 km away from the venue is also provided.

Recipients of the award take responsibility for enrolling in the course, their study plan, negotiating study leave with their employing school, and booking any travel and accommodation for on-site courses.

Study leave is not covered by the study award but provided directly by the employer.

The employer approves study for the recipient and also agrees to support their studies. This means they should grant study leave to the recipient and reduce their workload accordingly.


In February 2010, the then Associate Minister of Education, Heather Roy, launched the partnership between Massey and Canterbury universities to provide Postgraduate Qualifications in Specialist Teaching.

This was part of a Ministry of Education project to improve services to children with special education needs by building teacher capability.

To achieve this, the Ministry set up a restructured qualification framework for special education that was both accessible and manageable for teachers.