Navigating the system: part 2

In our second part of a two-part series, Paula Galey explains some of the specifics of resources and programmes to help children who may be developmentally delayed, disabled, or need extra help.

ONGOING RESOURCE SCHEME (ORS)

This is for children who have a very high level of need in learning, vision, physical, language use, or social communication. To qualify, the child must have an ongoing extreme or severe difficulty that prevents them accessing education. It is generally applied for several months prior to the child beginning school.

RESOURCE TEACHERS OF LEARNING AND BEHAVIOUR (RTLB)

These teachers are specialists employed to work with children in Years 1 to 10. They are trained to assist teachers to meet the needs of learners who have moderate learning and behaviour difficulties, particularly Maori or Pacific Island children in state care. They may work with classroom teachers to implement special teaching strategies or introduce class or school-wide programmes or, on occasion, work directly with individual students.

PHYSICAL DISABILITY SERVICE

This team involves physiotherapists and occupational therapists employed to assist children who have a physical disability that impedes them from moving safely around the school or playground or from participating in physical learning activities including handwriting. They may implement programmes to meet the child’s needs or make structural changes to the school such as building ramps. Their role also includes training school staff to help students manage basic tasks like toileting, eating, or changing clothes. Furthermore, these consultants are capable of accessing technology or tools and materials that might support learners with mobility or handwriting issues.

EXTREME BEHAVIOUR DIFFICULTIES

There is available a team of psychologists who provide an intensive wraparound service for students in Years 1 to 10 who present with highly complex or challenging behavioural, social, emotional, or educational issues. These might include students with an intellectual learning disability. These specialists work with the student’s family and teachers to tailor a comprehensive plan that will support the child at school and in the community. They endeavour to help the child learn positive ways of behaving and socialising and acquire new skills that will enable them to enjoy a successful home and school life. This may entail involving a range of organisations or agencies that can support the child and provides funding for up to three years to acquire any necessary equipment or memberships to community groups that may be required.

POSITIVE BEHAVIOUR FOR LEARNING (PB4L)

Based on the premise that positive behaviour can be learned, this initiative provides programmes to improve student engagement and achievement and manage disruptive behaviour. Programmes include “The Incredible Years”, aimed at providing strategies to parents and teachers to help them build positive relationships and manage challenging behaviour among three- to eight-year- olds. Another programme is “My Friends”, designed to build self-esteem and resilience by teaching practical skills to cope with life’s challenges. There are also school-based initiatives such as “Kaupapa Maori”, which attempts to develop a positive school culture.

TEACHING AIDES

Funding might be used to employ a teacher aide whose role will be to assist the teacher to meet your child’s educational needs. Generally the school will be responsible for selecting a teacher aide, but parents are entitled to be involved in this process. If you are unhappy with the way the teacher aide is being used to support your child and you cannot resolve this with your child’s school, you can contact the Ministry of Education and speak with a liaison officer who will help you find a solution. A relatively new initiative is the In Class Support fund. This provides teacher aide funding of five hours per week for students who need support to lift their achievement. Each school is individually responsible for administering the fund and it can be used to assist students who may have a learning disability.

COMMUNICATION SPECIALISTS

This team comprises Speech Language Therapists (SLT) who are qualified to support children between the ages of five and eight whose talking is hard to understand or whose language skills are below the expected level for their age. They also provide strategies, advice, and guidance to students who may be struggling to develop conversational skills or have a stutter or problems with their voice.

Paula Galey (M Ed Psych [hons] Hdip Tchg) is a teacher who specialised in working with students with learning and behaviour difficulties. She currently writes educational resources while raising her three children.
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