Last updated 13 December 2022
The Ministry of Education provides learning support for children and students. Learning support refers to the additional support some children and young people need to engage and achieve in education. Children and students can apply for learning support from the Ministry of Education if they:
- have Autism Spectrum Disorder
- have vision impairments
- have speech and language communication needs
- need adaptive technology
- have very high needs because of their disability
- or can't attend schools because they are unwell.
You can talk to the school's deputy principal who typically looks after special learning needs of students or talk to your local Ministry of Education office to find out more about learning support. You can also visit the Ministry of Education website for more information.
Special schools for children with high needs
Specialist schools support high needs students, either in day schools or residential schools across New Zealand. There are 13 specialist schools in Auckland.
Day specialist schools can provide specialist teaching and specialist services to your child if they have high needs. As well as a base school, many specialist schools have satellite classes on site at regular schools, where your child can receive specialist teaching and have the opportunity to integrate in a regular school environment.
Residential specialist schools can support your child if they are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, have low vision, or have severe behaviour needs, or have educational, social, emotional needs.
Visit the Ministry of Education website for more information about applying to these schools.
Awhi Ngā Mātua have published a piece on everything you need to know about the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme or ORS funding scheme.
The Ongoing Resourcing Scheme is funding for supporting children in New Zealand’s education system with ongoing support needs. They've answered some frequently asked questions like what to do if your application is declined and how to appeal. Go to Awhi Ngā Mātua website for more info.
Find out about inclusive education in New Zealand schools, including your school's legal obligations.
Homeschooling can be an option for special needs and disabled children who are finding traditional schools are not meeting their education needs. Go to the Auckland Home Educators website for more information on what to expect when homeschooling your children.
Distance education for children with high health needs
The Ministry of Education has approved a new, temporary, Government-funded dual tuition gateway that will allow ākonga to access distance education where they or their whānau are immunocompromised or have a higher risk of illness from COVID-19.
Request for devices for education purposes
School age students with disabilities may be entitled to Assistive Tech or they may be entitled to devices allocated through their school
- ORS students in a satellite class can contact their host Specialist School to to access assistive tech or devices
- ORS students in mainstream schools can contact their Specialist School Outreach service to providing assistive tech or device support
All other students can contact their school's learning support coordinator (LSC) or SENCO (Special Education Needs Coordinator) for assistive tech or device requests.
Awhi Ngā Mātua
This Facebook group is for parents of kids with disabilities or high health needs.
Education legal issues
Families have often voiced questions regarding disability in the education sector. Disability Connect runs regular seminars for parents/carers who need information on:
- special education
- school rules and discipline
- discussion on whether their legal and reasonable
- section 37 and section 47 appeals, stand downs and many more will be covered in this seminar.
- a list of relevant resources.
Kia Manawaroa is the Ministry of Education's pānui/newsletter for whānau Māori with children in the education system, and includes information about COVID-19 changes.
Supporting parents during difficult times
SKIP continue to release new information and resources to support whānau and caregivers – particularly those caring for tamariki under five. Follow SKIP on Facebook and visit the SKIP website to see the latest articles, videos and tips for whānau.
All SKIP resources are free to order online. You can also order free packs of Tiny Adventures activity cards to share some quick, fun activity ideas for whānau with tamariki at home. Each pack contains over 80 cards to alleviate boredom.
Help with school costs
Getting kids ready for the start of a new year can be expensive. If you're struggling to pay school costs you may be able to get support from the Ministry for Social Development. MSD can help with uniforms and stationery as well as school fees (not school donations) and costs for activities.
Income limits for help with these, and other urgent and essential costs, have been increased temporarily. You can find out more about help with urgent or unexpected costs on the Work and Income website.
Do you want to study?
The Training Incentive Allowance can help with fees and other study costs.
If you’re a sole parent, or a carer or disabled person receiving Supported Living Payment, you may be able to get Training Incentive Allowance. The allowance is available for courses at levels 1-7 of the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.
You can get up to a maximum of $4,567.60 a year to help pay for costs while you’re studying – to cover things like books, course costs, equipment, additional care costs, transport and childcare costs – and you don’t have to pay it back. Find out more.
Autistic tertiary learners
Altogether Autism Takiwātanga created a research-based resource on how educators and staff can support tertiary learners. If you want to give educators some baseline guide on how to engage with you, how you process information, manage anxiety and how you can be supported to establish social relationships, you can share the Altogether Autism guide with them.
The Parenting Resource
The Parenting Resource website is designed for use by workers supporting families with young children.
The resource includes parenting and child development information covering pregnancy through to five years of age.