Highest Needs Review

The purpose of the Highest Needs Review is to ensure that children and young people with the highest needs for learning support achieve their full potential through positive education outcomes.

To achieve this full potential, we need to ensure that they receive the learning supports they need, when they need it, and for as long as they need it.

This is a commitment outlined in Priority 4 in the Learning Support Action Plan 2019-2025:

Learning Support Action Plan - conversation.education.govt.nz(external link)

The Review will take a whole child and their family/whānau/aiga approach and will not define children and young people by specific diagnosis, disability, disorder or learning difference. 

We are currently reviewing submissions that were gathered during our recent 4-month public engagement.

During this engagement we:

  • Engaged widely with Iwi partners, parent groups, Pacific communities, disabled persons, the education sector including resource teachers and specialists, the health, disability sector and social sectors, along with other government agencies to unpack identified issues, barriers, and areas of concern for those children and young people within the Scope of the Review.
  • Gathered evidence and insights through quantitative data analysis and a literature review on areas within the Scope of the Review.

We are currently reviewing and analysing submissions and information gathered.

What we learnt from the initial engagement

Prior to public engagement, we had Initial targeted engagement with approximately 80 stakeholders was conducted from 27 May to 9 July 2021 to co-design the Review’s Scope and Terms of Reference by understanding a range of perspectives and to ensure that key issues and concerns were captured.

Children and young people cannot be separated into distinct cohorts or populations when individual circumstances are complex and overlapping needs are considered. The Review will consider the needs of children and young people who we know are experiencing barriers to their education.  

This includes those who:

  • currently receive individualised support
  • have an unmet need for individualised support
  • are in settings that have inequitable access to these supports. 

More information on the Terms of Reference and the initial engagement can be found in the Highest Needs Review Cabinet Paper [PDF, 2 MB].

Timeline of the Review

Submissions from public engagement are currently being analysed to develop proposals for change.

In October 2021, the Associate Minister for Education Hon. Jan Tinetti announced the second engagement phase of the Review.

The announcement can be found on the following page: More support for learners with highest needs - beehive.govt.nz website.(external link)

Phase two engagement material

Our engagement material is available below in New Zealand Sign Language, Braille, and Easy Read.

You can use the Review mailbox: highestneeds.review@education.govt.nz to contact the Review team.

New Zealand Sign Language

Treaty Partner and Stakeholder: Information Sheet and Questions


Easy Read

Ministry of Education Advisory Group

The Ministry of Education Advisory Group will:

  • work with the Review Team to provide their expertise, subject matter knowledge, lived experience and perspectives across areas of the Scope
  • provide advice and expertise when options and solutions are being developed on the key areas of concerns, issues, and barriers raised by stakeholder engagement within the Review’s Scope
  • test and challenge the Review team’s thinking
  • assist with presenting pieces of work as and when required.

Highest Needs Review: Advisory Group Terms of Reference [PDF, 129 KB] 

Members of the Advisory Group are:

  • John Bangma
  • Wairemana Campbell       
  • Saane Faaofo Oldehaver
  • Lisa Foster   
  • Rebekah Graham    
  • Bruce Jepsen
  • Shirley Jones
  • Te Rina Leonard     
  • Featuna’i Liua’ana
  • Thecla Moffat         
  • Missy Morton
  • Nigel Ngahiwi
  • Bernette Peters      
  • Caroline Samson    
  • Colin Tarr
  • Frian Wadia  
  • Hannah Winter

More information about the HNR Advisory Group members

Final phase of the Review

The final phase of the Review will be to develop options and solutions for change. The Review team will develop a report for the Minister with recommendations for Cabinet in October 2022.

Government decisions

Key documents translated

The Executive Summary of the Cabinet paper, Summary of Engagement, and Terms of Reference have been translated from English to Te Reo, Pasific languages and for communities that have English as second language.

Executive Summary

Appendix One

Appendix Two

Contact the Review team

The Review team can be contacted directly through highestneeds.review@education.govt.nz.


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