How the Ministry's special education support works

If your child has special education needs you will want to make sure you're talking to the right people and getting all the support that's available to you. The Ministry of Education's special education team can help you with this.

If your child is assessed as needing some extra special education support the Ministry's special education team will work with your child from birth through to when they leave school.

When your child is very young they are often your first point of contact and provide an early intervention service that supports your child, your family and whānau, and your child's ECE service or kōhanga reo. They can also help with the transition to school or kura.

Once your child is at school or kura, they will support the school, kura, teachers, kaiako, you and your family and whānau to work with your child. The majority of children with special education needs have low or moderate needs and schools and kura provide the support required for these children.

If your child is one of the small number of children with high needs, Special Education might provide specialist help to support your child's teacher or kaiako or to work directly with your child.

The government funds the Ministry of Education, schools and kura to provide this support so you don't have to pay any fees for this special education support.

What do mild, moderate and high mean in relation to special needs?

Your child can be assessed to find out if there's a difficulty in some area of their development, and whether they have mild, moderate or high special education needs. These are special education terms which describe how much help your child will need to join in and learn alongside the children in their class. The need may be a physical disability, a sensory impairment, a learning or communication delay, a social, emotional or behavioural difficulty, or a combination of these.


Special education needs support provided based on level of needs

Highest level needs

3% of school-aged children

(around 20,000 children)

Early Intervention Service

Ongoing Resourcing Scheme

School High Health Needs Fund

Severe Behaviour Service

Communication Service

Moderate to high level needs

4% of school-aged children

(40,000 to 60,000 children)

Early Intervention Service

Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour

Special Education Grant

Regional Health Schools

Moderate support for Physical, Hearing, Vision

 Mild needs

Early Intervention Service

Special Education Grant

Whānau and community support

It's important to form a circle of supporters and friends around your child. Specialists are not your only support. The combined energies of a group of people can become a powerful force in your child's life, and can help you to stay connected and supported within your whānau and community. Supporters can be anyone who cares enough about your child to give their time and energy, and who wants to help them achieve their dreams and potential. They could be family, whānau, friends, neighbours, community members, people from local clubs, or support workers. They may be able to provide practical help, problem-solving, information gathering, listening, giving advice or sharing knowledge, being allies or advocates.

To connect with local organisations in your community check out Community support groups




Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Tell us what you think.