Support and funding for students with disabilities
All schools receive funding from the Ministry of Education to support students with special needs. It’s up to each school how they use the Special Education Grant to best meet the special education needs of students. The school might choose to spend the grant on providing resources, additional teaching time or the provision of teacher aides, or professional development for teachers.
The Ministry of Education can also provide additional funding and resources to support individual children who are identified as having high needs.
Funding for individual special needs students
The Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) provides support for students with the highest level of need. Around one percent of students receive this support at any one time. To meet ORS criteria, students must have either ongoing extreme or severe difficulty in their learning, hearing, vision, physical or communication ability, or they may have moderate to high difficulty across a number of areas.
ORS can be used to provide specialists such as speech language therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists or special education advisors. It can also be used for additional teachers to work with the student or prepare resources for them, or a teacher aide.
The School High Health Needs Fund (SHNNF) supports students who have high health needs and who need a teacher aide to help care for them at school because of a significant health condition. A teacher aide may be needed to provide care to protect the student’s life and wellbeing, prevent accidents or injury, or control infection.
In-Class Support funding is for students who would benefit from additional support but don’t qualify for ORS funding. In-Class Support funding provides schools with 5 hours a week of teacher aide time per student.
Other services and support for special needs students
The Ministry can support your school to apply for and use assistive technology that students with a disability may need to fully participate and learn in class. Assistive technology might include things like reading and writing computer software, a tablet and learning apps, or a personal FM system that can be received by the student’s hearing aid.
The Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLBs) are specialist teachers who provide learning and behaviour support to a number of schools. They may support a classroom teacher by providing them with special teaching strategies or they might work directly with students.
The Physical Disability Service employs physiotherapists and occupational therapists to work with teachers and schools to help them adapt the school environment to meet students’ needs. This may include modifications for accessibility. In some areas the Physical Disability Service is provided by specialist service providers. You can find a list of providers at the Ministry of Education website.
The Communication Service employs speech language therapists who support children between five and eight years old who have high communication needs. For example, they may be very hard to understand or their language skills may be well below the level expected for their age.
Visit the Altogether Autism website to read Autism, communication and education – an article by Dr Emma Goodall about the importance of helping your child’s school and teacher to understand your child’s communication profile so they can participate successfully in education.
Schools also have a range of services available to help with significant or complex behavioural needs. You can learn more at the Ministry of Education website about behaviour support and services.
The Blind and Low Vision Education Network (BLENNZ) provides specialist teachers called Resource Teachers: Vision (RTVs). They can work with you and your child’s teachers to make a plan that supports your child to meet learning goals.
The Ministry of Education employs Advisers on Deaf Children (AoDCs) to work alongside children who are deaf or hard of hearing. They provide advice on communication and language development, and help provide resources and programmes to support your child’s education.
Deaf or hard of hearing children can also get support from Resource Teachers: Deaf (RTD) employed at Deaf Education Centres. There are two centres in New Zealand. Kelston Deaf Centre is in Auckland and provides services north of Taupo. Van Asch Deaf Education Centre is in Christchurch and services south of Taupo.