Services and support available for primary school

The support that's available to your child in the primary and intermediate years depends on their age, their learning support needs, and how many other children in their area need learning support.

Communication Service

Offers support if your child has difficulties with speaking, listening and understanding language. A speech-language therapist will assess your child's communication skills to work out what support they need. They will work with you and your whānau, your child and your child's teachers and kaiako.

Kaitakawaenga (Māori cultural advisors) can also provide cultural support to you.

If your child does have high communication needs, the therapist will work together with you and your child's teachers or kaiako to develop a plan to help address the difficulties. They may support your child's teachers, kaiako and teachers' aides through discussion, modelling and video-coaching.

Can my child get this support, and what does it cost?

To get support from the Communication Service your child will experience one or more of the following in everyday situations: 

  • speaks in a way that's very difficult for people to understand
  • has difficulty understanding what people say to them
  • doesn't talk as well as many children of their age
  • has difficulty developing social skills
  • has a stutter
  • has voice difficulties that make it hard for them to communicate.

The service is government funded and free.

For more details read the Communication Service info sheet [PDF, 424 KB]

Ask your child's school or kura to refer you to the Communication Service or contact your local Ministry learning support team(external link).

Language and Learning Intervention (LLI)

The Language and Learning Intervention (LLI) is part of the Communication Service, and is for the most significant communication difficulties. It provides an approach-based on helping children use language in every day situations, where they interact with the adults in their life, for example with their teacher or kaiako in the classroom. A speech-language therapist works with you and your child's team to agree on the goals your child can achieve with the teams help in the areas of communication, literacy and numeracy. 

The team creates an action plan for supporting your child in everyday classroom conversations.

Can my child get this support, and what does it cost?

As this service is part of the Communication Service, it is government-funded and free.

Ask your child's school or kura to refer you to the LLI service.

Incredible Years Programmes

A series of programmes for parents and teachers of children aged 3-8 who are experiencing behaviour difficulties. By supporting the skills and confidence of the key adults in the lives of children, they aim to promote children’s social, emotional, behavioural and academic competence.

Some of the skills you'll learn as a parent and/or carer include: 

  • how to play and spend time together
  • praising and rewarding children
  • communicating positively
  • setting limits
  • reducing challenging behaviours
  • helping children to problem-solve.

From March 2018 Incredible Years programmes will also be available that are specifically designed for parents and teachers of children aged 2-5 that are autistic, in the following regions:

  • Auckland
  • Tauranga
  • Hawke’s Bay
  • Wellington
  • Nelson
  • Christchurch
  • Invercargill.

Further programmes will be announced in 2018.

Can my child get this support, and what does it cost?

If your child is aged 3-8 and is experiencing behaviour difficulties, or is aged 2-5 and is autistic, you may be able to take part in one of these programmes.

These programmes are government funded and free.

Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)

The Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) provides support for children with the highest level of need to help them join in and learn alongside other children at school or kura. ORS provides an additional teacher or a teacher's aide, support from specialists, and funding for small items your child might need. Your child's school or kura will work with you and the Ministry's learning support team to decide on the amount of support your child gets - this support may change from year to year. 

High or very high needs is defined as: when your child has extreme or severe difficulty with learning, speaking, communicating socially, hearing, seeing or moving about. For example, your child may have a severe physical disability, or rely totally on sign language to communicate. However, the amount of support your child needs to learn alongside others will be greater for very high needs than high needs. 

Can my child get this support, and what does it cost?

If your child has high or very high needs it's likely they'll be eligible for the ORS. Your child's teacher or kaiako, or the special education needs co-ordinator (SENCO) at the school or kura will apply with you to the Ministry's learning support team. 

If the application is successful, then ORS is government funded and free.

For an overview of the ORS and how you apply read our Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) info sheet [PDF, 393 KB]

To find out what happens when your child has been accepted for ORS read Welcome to the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) [PDF, 1.5 MB].

What if my child doesn't qualify for the ORS?

If your child's needs are not high enough to qualify, talk with your child's teacher or kaiako, or the Ministry's learning support team about other support options. You may be able to get support through the school or kura's Special Education Grant, or the school or kura may refer you to a resource teacher. You may also get support from other special education specialists.

Physical Disability Service

Provides physiotherapists and occupational therapists to work with your child at school or kura so they can participate and learn alongside their peers. You and your child's school or kura will need to apply and a therapist will assess your child's needs. They'll observe your child at school or kura, talk to their teachers or kaiako, you and other family and whānau, and any other specialist teachers or therapists that your child is working with. 

Therapists may give ideas on how to make sure your child is included in all class activities, and also talk to the school or kura about changes that might be made to classrooms and other parts of the building to make it easier for your child to get around. The therapists will plan a programme with strategies to fit with your child's needs. They may develop a service agreement that outlines the goals and priorities, resources, time frames and responsibilities of everyone involved. 

Can my child get this support, and what does it cost?

To receive support from this service your child is likely to have difficulty moving around the classroom and school or kura, taking part in learning activities (for example, using technology or holding a pen), or managing tasks like changing their clothes or eating meals. 

If your child has a severe physical disability or more than one disability it might be better to apply for support from the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS). Talk to your child's teacher or kaiako and health and education specialists about this.

The service is government funded and free.

To find out more read our Physical Disability Service info sheet [PDF, 232 KB].

Your child's therapist or school or kura can refer your child to this service - they'll need to know if your child is already receiving health or ACC support if the disability is due to an accident.

School High Health Needs Fund (SHHNF) and regional health schools

SHHNF provides teacher's aide support for 6 weeks or more if your child has a serious medical condition and needs help to attend school or kura safely. The Ministry's learning support team will work with you to plan the support your child needs.

Regional health schools provide teachers to teach your child at home or in hospital if they are too sick to go to school. Your child will stay on the roll of their usual school while they're receiving this support. Health school teachers might visit every day or once or twice a week depending on your child's age and education needs.

The teacher's focus is the school curriculum rather than your child's health or social needs. Health schools are located in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and they cater to students living all over the country including remote country areas. 

If may be that your child is supported by both services at different times.

Can my child get this support, and what does it cost?

Either a special education needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or your child's teacher or kaiako will apply on your behalf for the SHHNF. They'll need up-to-date medical information from your child's medical specialist.

Regional health school support is available to students in years 0 to 13, and you can get this on top of any other learning support. Anyone can make a referral to a regional health school - talk to your child's teacher, kaiako or principal, or their nurse if they are in hospital.

These services are government funded and free.

To find out what is covered by these services, read our School High Health Fund and regional health schools information sheet [PDF, 734 KB] 

Or contact the regional health school office in your area:

Northern Health School(external link)

Central Regional Health School(external link)

Southern Regional Health School(external link)

Severe Behaviour Service

This is a team of specialists who schools and kura can call in to help if your child is experiencing severe behaviour difficulties. They have specialist knowledge, strategies and experience and will provide advice and support for you, your family and whānau and your child’s teachers and kaiako. Your child’s learning environment (at home and in the classroom) can be changed to help them learn more positive ways of coping and relating to others. 

A psychologist or a learning support advisor will work with your child, you and your whānau and school to look at what is contributing to your child’s behaviour and to work out ways to help change and manage it. You may also work with behaviour support workers, or kaitakawaenga (Maori cultural advisors). 

Can my child get this support, and what does it cost?

If your child is in years 1 to 10 and behaves in a way that significantly affects their learning or their ability to relate positively with other people, they can be considered for the Severe Behaviour Service. 

The service is government funded and free.

To find out more read the Severe Behaviour Service fact sheet [PDF, 369 KB].

Your child’s teacher or kaiako can refer you to the service.

Special Education Grant

Schools and kura can use this grant to support students with learning support needs who may or may not be getting other support or funding. Schools can use it to provide resources, teacher training, teachers' aides, Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour and other specialists. Schools can also use the fund for individual students or groups of students. The level of funding each school receives is based on student numbers and decile ranking.  

Can my child get this support, and what does it cost?

Talk to your child's teacher or the special education needs coordinator (SENCO) at school if your child has learning needs that are not covered by any of the other services available.

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