School Years

Starting School

Every child is unique and no one school or system works for everyone, particularly if your child has extra needs. Depending on your location will determine what's on offer in your community. You may follow the specialised education or the mainstream pathway. However, the beginning of your child's transition into school life will often commence with the following:

  • If your child is considered as high or very high needs needing specialist assistance to attend school, an assessment called the Ongoing Resources Scheme (ORS) will be made. This assessment will look at the overall needs of your child: learning | hearing | vision | physical | communication and determine the criteria level that your child will need to support them through their education. If your child does not meet the ORS criteria it will mean that they are deemed able to follow the New Zealand education curriculum with minimal specialist input.
  • Can your child get around the school and access all its facilities? If your choice of school provides insufficient access it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education to do a full assessment to ascertain how your child can attend. The school can apply for funding to enable barrier free access.
  • Will the school cater well for my child's needs? You will get a good idea of how a school feels by making a visit and its good to take a look around a few to get a comparison.
  • Transport, how will my child get to school and back? Your child could be eligible for Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA) if they have mobility or safety needs.

Your child will have an Individualised Education Plan (IEP) meeting every six months. Here you will discuss with your child's team of therapists, teachers and teacher aides the priority areas of learning and achievements for the year. Within mainstream schools you will be assigned a Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) who will be responsible for helping in the development of your child's IEP and coordinating appropriate resources, supports and services.

During the school year your child maybe be referred to outside agencies like TalkLink Trust for assistive technologies in terms of communication and BLENNZ for blind or low vision assessments.


Extra-curricular activities that a school may provide

There are a number of specialist activities, programmes and therapies that a school may provide as part of their curriculum. Many of these activities will provide a holistic approach to your child's overall physical maintenance. If a school does not provide ie if mainstreaming then it maybe possible to attend the following independent of the school.