The team that will support your child
There are many different people who are likely to work with you to help your child develop and learn. Together you'll work as a team.
- Special Education specialists who might work with your child
- People at school or kura who will work with your child
- Other specialists who work to support your child
The Ministry of Education's special education team can support you, and work with both your very young child, and your school or kura aged child to help develop a programme of services and supports to help your child to join in with other children and learn alongside them.
Decisions will need to be made about which specialist services your child needs most, and when.
You and the special education team will talk, and make decisions about which specialist services your child needs most, and when. You might be asked to sign ‘service agreements’ about the amount of specialist time your child will get. The specialists may be one or a combination of those listed below:
Lead worker or key worker
The lead or key worker will be your main contact. They will coordinate all the services your child gets from Special Education, attend relevant meetings and training and handle any funding issues. They're one of the people you can talk to if you have concerns about your child’s support.
Psychologists work with your child if they have behaviour or learning needs that get in the way of their learning. They can help you work out what might be contributing to your child’s difficulties and what support they need to help them learn.
Special education advisors (SEAs)
SEAs might also work with your child if they have difficulties with learning. They can support educators and teachers to make learning easier for your child.
Advisers on deaf children (AODC)
AODCs can help if your child is deaf or hard of hearing. They can provide information about the full range of options for developing language and communication, including New Zealand Sign Language, the use of hearing aids or special equipment. They might work with you and your child and give your child’s educator or teacher advice on learning programmes and equipment.
Speech-language therapists (SLTs)
SLTs can help if your child has difficulties talking, listening and understanding and using language. They will assess your child’s abilities in order to work out what kind of support they need. Speech-language therapists might work directly with your child as well as offer advice to both you and your child's educator or teacher. They might also provide a programme of activities for each of you to work on with your child.
Kaitakawaenga (Māori cultural advisors)
Kaitakawaenga can work together with your child's team and your whānau. They support everyone to work in a culturally appropriate and responsive way.
Occupational therapists (OTs) and physiotherapists (PTs)
OTs work with children, their families and whanau to help children to be independent in activities of daily living.
Physiotherapists provide advice about the support, equipment and technology your child a might need to move around a environment.
If your child is under 5 they might receive services from a OT or PT who is based at a hospital.
When your child is of school or kura age they will work with OTs and PTs if they are being supported by the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) or the Physical Disability Service. Therapists help your child if they have a physical disability that affects their ability to learn and participate in the classroom. They can assess your child’s needs and provide advice to teachers and your family and whānau.
Support workers may be employed as part of your child's Early Intervention Service, Communication Service or Severe Behaviour Service. They work one-to-one with your child under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, Special Education.
All the staff at your child’s school or kura should be aware of your child’s needs and be willing to support the classroom teacher and teacher’s aide if necessary. You'll be welcome to help support your child at school or kura, and you have the same right as any other parent to speak with the principal or the school’s board of trustees.
Your child’s teacher or kaiako is the person responsible for making sure your child is learning what they need to learn, just as they are for all their students. Their role is to work with any additional teachers and teacher’s aide and any specialists to develop your child’s learning programme based on their Individual Education Plan (IEP).
Additional teachers are available if your child receives support under the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS). They are employed by your child's school or kura and the amount of time they're available depends on the level of your child's needs. Additional teachers work directly with the classroom teacher or kaiako to coordinate, plan and support your child's learning.
In some schools and kura, the additional teacher works with all the special education needs students in the school or kura. In others, the additional teacher takes the main class at times so that the classroom teacher has time to work with the children with special education needs.
Get to know the additional teacher, as they'll be an important day to day member of your child’s support team.
All Resource teachers are trained teachers who have developed extra specialist skills. They work with you, your child and your child's teacher.
Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour work with children with learning or behaviour difficulties. They can work directly with your child or groups of children. They are employed by groups or 'clusters' of schools or kura.
Resource Teachers: Vision help if your child has trouble with their vision. They are employed by the Blind and Low Vision Network of New Zealand (BLENNZ).
Resource Teachers: Deaf help support your child if they have trouble with their hearing or are deaf. They are employed by the two Deaf Education Centres - Van Asch and Kelston.
Resource Teachers: Literacy help children at school with reading and writing difficulties.
Talk to your school or kura about what support you might be able to get for your child under their Special Education Grant, and through Resource Teachers, and ask them about making an application for support from Resource Teachers. If you qualify support from Resource Teachers is government funded and free.
Special education needs co-ordinator (SENCO)
Many (but not all) schools and kura have a SENCO who manages all the special education needs programmes in the school or kura. This person makes sure the teachers, kaiako, you, your family and whānau and your child's specialists all know what’s going on. Sometimes the SENCO is one of the teachers, and sometime it is someone who works as the additional teacher.
Teachers' aides are employed by the school or kura and support your child’s classroom teacher or kaiako by working one-to-one with your child, providing them with support for their learning programme, or working with a small group of children. The teacher’s aide plays a key role in supporting your child to learn alongside and join in activities with other children the same age. They can also help with medicines, feeding, toileting, moving about the school and using specialist equipment.
For more information read our information sheet The role of the teacher's aide [PDF, 263 KB].
Conductors in conductive education programme
Conductors in conductive education programme take a holistic approach to the development of learning, movement, communication and well-being for children with physical disabilities. They create situations that encourage learning and problem solving, and hold your child's attention to make sure they remain motivated.
Development orientation and mobility specialists
These specialists work with children who are blind, deafblind or have low vision to help them with the skills they need to access the National Curriculum. Some of these skills include moving around safely, problem solving and developing independence.
Music therapists use the special qualities of music in a shared relationship with children to support learning and personal growth.
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