Definitions of very high and high needs for ORS

Each criteria in the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) addresses an area of need. The needs are further defined by a level of need - either very high or high needs.

The areas of need are: learning, hearing, vision, mobility, language use and social communication.

How we define very high needs

A student is considered to have very high needs when they need:

  • teaching and learning programmes completely adapted to meet their needs (this is for students who have extremely delayed cognitive development), or
  • specialist help to communicate with other people face-to-face — this is for students who rely totally on signing or Braille for reading and writing or help from a trained person after a cochlear implant, or
  • weekly help from a specialist and/or monthly monitoring by a specialist, and daily support from a teacher aide to help with mobility and positioning or personal care (this is for students who have an extremely severe physical disability), or
  • weekly help from a specialist, or monthly monitoring by a specialist with daily support by others to help with a severe disorder when using language and social communication (for example, for profound autism).

Examples of very high needs

  • A student has extremely delayed cognitive development and at age 5 their developmental level is similar to that of an infant around 12 months old — for example, they’re learning to wave goodbye, to take turns at making sounds, to respond to their name, to imitate a simple action, to smile at a familiar person.
  • A student relies totally on sign language for all communication.
  • A student relies totally on the help of a trained person to communicate after having a cochlear implant.
  • A student relies totally on Braille for reading and writing.
  • A student has extreme physical disabilities and may be extremely fragile. The student has difficulties with eating, speaking and swallowing, and on their own are unable to move, change position, sit, eat, dress, grasp or release or manipulate objects.
  • A student has communication and social behaviours that are extremely unusual and inappropriate. They have extreme difficulties with social interaction, communication and imagination, and have rigid, repetitive behaviours that appear to be meaningless. 
  • The combination and intensity of these characteristics vary but are apparent all of the time.

How we define high needs

The description of high needs is similar to that of very high needs, except a student will have less extreme difficulties and will need less support. A student is considered to have high needs if they need:

  • teaching and learning programmes significantly adapted to meet their needs, and additional specialist teacher time of at least half a day a week, or
  • a teacher with specialist skills in deaf education for at least half a day a week to support access to the curriculum, or
  • a teacher with specialist skills in vision education for at least half a day a week to support access to the curriculum, or
  • monthly one-to-one help from a specialist, and/or monitoring by a specialist once a term together with daily support to help with mobility and positioning or personal care, or
  • monthly one-to-one help from a specialist, and/or monitoring by a specialist once a term together with daily support to help with a severe disorder when using language and social communication
  • a student might also be considered to have high needs if they have combined moderate ongoing needs. This means most of their teaching and learning programmes need to be significantly adapted for them and they have two other needs that require specialist help — such as a moderate hearing or vision or physical impairment, or moderate difficulty when using language and 
  • communicating in socially appropriate ways.

Examples of high needs

  • A student has significant developmental delay and difficulties with almost all of the key competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum. They require special teaching strategies to make progress in all learning areas.
  • A student has a severe (71–90 decibels) or profound (greater than 91 decibels) bilateral sensori-neural hearing loss and uses hearing aids and/or a cochlear implant full time, usually uses an FM system and uses spoken language as their main form of communication, which might be supplemented by the use of sign language and gestures.
  • A student has severe vision impairment (acuity of 6/36 or worse) and needs regular help from a teacher with specialist skills in vision education.
  • A student has a severe physical disability and is unable to stand and walk without support and has poor hand control. They cannot independently dress, eat, hold a cup or remain stable when sitting on the toilet. It’s likely the student uses a manual or power chair, walker and specialised seating and needs a lot of help to get in and out of their equipment. A student might have a deteriorating condition, such as muscular dystrophy, and frequently falls, has difficulty with steps or slopes and uses a wheelchair to move longer distances.
  • A student finds it difficult to join in almost all learning and social activities, usually distances themselves from social situations and seems to be mostly unaware of people around them, often has trouble understanding people’s facial expressions and body language and gets severely distressed by change. It’s likely the child will have a diagnosis of autism or another similar diagnosis.

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