Special Education Transport Assistance

Once your child gets to school age, if they need help getting to and from school safely they may be able to get Special Education Transport Assistance (SESTA). How much help they get is based on their needs and the nearest school that can meet their needs.

What is covered by SESTA?

SESTA covers the transport between home and your child's state or state-integrated school or kura, and potentially between school or kura and a respite care facility. There are 3 types of assistance available:

  • a place on a school bus
  • a place on a contracted SESTA service (this may include a sedan, minibus or total mobility vehicle)
  • an allowance (called a conveyance allowance) which will help fund your child's transport.

Your child might receive one or a combination of these three, depending on their needs. You might be paid a conveyance allowance, or your child may be given a place in a sedan, van, specialised vehicle or bus service.

You may also get help if your child needs special equipment to help them travel safely.

Can my child get SESTA, and how do I apply?

Your child may be able to get SESTA if they are:

  • 5 to 21 years old and meet the mobility criteria or safety criteria
  • enrolled at a state, or state-integrated school or kura if that school or kura is the closest
  • go to the nearest school, kura or educational setting that meets their special education needs.

Mobility criteria is defined as: physical or medical needs prevent your child travelling independently to and from school or kura, or using public transport or a school bus. It may be that your child uses a wheelchair or other specialised equipment.

Safety criteria is defined as:  there's a significant risk of harm or danger to your child, or to others, during the journey to and from school or kura. Your child may have an intellectual disability or a medical condition.

If your child can use a school bus service this option will be offered first. If not, then the Ministry's special education team will look into alternatives, taking into account your child's special education needs, the school or kura they go to, and the number of places on existing transport routes.

How to apply for SESTA

Download the SESTA application form [DOC, 1 MB], complete Section A, then hand it to your school to fill out Section B. They'll send it the Ministry who will fill out section C.

Download the School Transport Equipment Application Form [DOC, 1.1 MB] if your child needs special equipment to help then travel safely.

What's not covered by SESTA?

SESTA may not cover the whole journey or the full transport costs. If you decide to enrol your child at a school or kura that is not the nearest one that meets their needs, your conveyance allowance will only cover the journey to the nearest one.

SESTA doesn't cover transport for your child to or from medical appointments, therapy sessions, counselling etc

SESTA won't be given to your child if their transport costs are being covered by ACC, or if they're at a boarding or residential school.

Talk to your service agent for more information about whether your child can get SESTA.

How long will my child receive SESTA?

Your child will get SESTA until they are 21 unless there is a specified end date, or their needs or circumstance change. If things do change, you'll have to fill out a new application. Your child's needs will then be reassessed to see whether they are still entitled to SESTA.

Roles and responsibilities

Drivers, school staff, and parents and caregivers all have responsibilities when using SESTA. 

These are explained in the Driver, Caregiver and School Staff Responsibilities & Expectations [DOCX, 859 KB] that you can download and keep to refer to.  These responsibilities include obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Vulnerable Children Act.

If you have a specific physical reason why you can't provide the required assistance the Ministry may support additional assistance, e.g. fitting of seatbelts, as long as you are there to witness the assistance in person.  The SETSA provider must document this assistance and all the details in writing.  You need to agree to it in writing too. 

SESTA service agents and transport providers

Your child's transport assistance will be arranged by one of 2 service agents:

North Island
Company: Cognition Transport
Email: transport@cognitioneducation.com
Phone: 09 638 4808
Postal address: 
PO Box 92617
Symonds Street
Auckland 1150
South Island
Company: School Support
Email: SESTA@schoolsupport.co.nz
Phone: 03 435 0600
Postal address: 
PO Box 115
Twizel 7944

Service agents manage all school transport providers across the country.

Complaints process

If you have concerns about the service or level of assistance your child is receiving, talk to your child's school or kura or directly to the transport provider. If you still feel that things have not been resolved, contact the service agent.

If you're still unhappy after that, email the Ministry on school.transport@education.govt.nz.

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