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 Act Plan 2019-25:

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

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

Initial 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.

What we learnt

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].

Enabling accessibility to vision and hearing-impaired individuals will be available for the Summary of Engagement and Terms of Reference. We apologise for the delay in having this written content fully accessible.

Timeline of the Review

The next phase of the Review

The next phase of the Review is starting now. The Minister has made an announcement.

The engagement period for this phase of the Review will continue to the end of March 2022.  

More support for learners with highest needs - beehive.govt.nz(external link)

 The Review will:

  • Actively seek to engage 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
  • Gather evidence and insights through quantitative data analysis and a literature review on areas within the Scope of the Review
  • Have opportunities for wider engagement through online Focus Group sessions which will seek to unpack specific issues, barriers, or areas of concern for those children and young people within the Scope of the Review
  • Have a Ministry of Education Advisory Group, which 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 to focus groups and wider virtual forums as and when required.

Focus Groups

The Review will aim to have initial Focus Group sessions before the end of 2021. Anyone can come to a Focus Group if they are interested to listen, participate, question, or contribute. 

Due to current uncertainty of COVID alert levels at this time, all Focus Groups have been planned via Microsoft Teams. 

We will provide further updates on what areas/topics are to be covered, dates and times and a link to each Focus Group.

Ministry of Education Advisory Group

A list of members will be provided in the coming weeks.

There will be a Terms of Reference for the Group. This has not been finalised, as the intention is to co-develop it with members. Once finalised it will be publicly available.

Online submissions 

We understand that not everyone can attend a focus group or have individual meetings with the Review team.

Focus Groups and individual meetings may not be your preference.

The Review team is working on ways for you to contribute in other ways and in your own time. We will provide further instructions on how you can do that in the coming weeks.

Final phase of the Review

The final phase of the Review will be to develop options and solutions for change in 2022.The Review team will develop a report 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, Pasifika 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 

Looking for updates

The Review team is working on communication channels to keep everyone updated on key pieces of information alongside ways to engage and contribute to the Review. 

We will provide further information on ways the Review team will do this.

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