ESOL funding

The Ministry provides ESOL funding so that schools can offer extra English language support for eligible students who speak more than one language.

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • ESOL Staff
  • Educators, Teachers and Kaiako
  • Learning Support Coordinators and SENCOs
  • RTLB
  • Boards

Schools can choose to access ESOL funding. To do so, their students must meet the eligibility criteria and the application process outlined below must be followed.

ESOL funding criteria

ESOL funding is targeted at students with the highest English language learning needs. The need for ESOL funding is assessed using the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP).

The scoring system is based on matrices that record each English language learner’s (ELL’s) achievement level in listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Students whose scores are below the ELLP benchmarks will qualify for funding if they're:

  1. migrants to New Zealand
  2. former refugees
  3. New Zealand-born students, with at least one parent of migrant or refugee background.

New Zealand-born students are eligible if at least one of their parents is a migrant to New Zealand and a language other than English is usually spoken in the home.

Who doesn’t qualify

  • Adult students
  • International fee-paying students
  • Students whose first language is identified as English or te Reo Māori.

ESOL funding amounts

The ESOL funding allows more intensive support for ELLs in their early years at New Zealand schools.

We provide higher funding for ELLs at secondary school as they need to learn English to function across a wider curriculum with higher language demands.

All funding amounts shown are GST exclusive.

ESOL funding for schools

Primary and intermediate students: $780 per year
Secondary students: $1000 per year

Migrant and former refugee students are entitled to ESOL funding for up to five years (20 terms). 

New Zealand-born students (of migrant or refugee parents) are eligible for up to three years (12 terms).

Schools can decide at which year level to start a student’s ESOL funding.

Former refugee students

The Refugee Flexible Funding Pool offers schools additional resources to address broader issues that may prevent former refugee students from participating and achieving in mainstream schooling. Contact your nearest Senior Advisors for Refugee and Migrant Support for more information about this funding.

Senior Advisors – Refugee and Migrant Support contact details

How to apply for ESOL funding

Update the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) record of progress

Before applying for funding, you need to complete the ELLP record of progress and matrices for each current migrant, former refugee or New Zealand-born English language learner at your school.

ELLP record of progress

Google doc version: ELLP record of progress – TKI website(external link)

Read the guidance on using the English Language Learning Progressions matrices from the ELLP professional support modules on the TKI website.

Module 6 – Using ELLP to support funding applications(external link)

The record of progress should be completed by:

  • in a primary or intermediate school, the student’s class teacher in consultation with the ESOL teacher and/or others in the school with whom the student works
  • in a secondary school, the ESOL specialist teacher, in collaboration with the student’s curriculum teachers.

Keep the completed record of progress form and matrices with the student’s other records. Do not send it to the Ministry with your funding application.

If the student scores below the threshold on the ELLP record of progress and you have the required evidence of their status, you can apply for ESOL funding.

Required evidence

For migrant students, record evidence of their date of entry to New Zealand.

For former refugee students, you need proof of their refugee status.

  • For quota refugees, you should have a letter from the Centre for Refugee Education identifying them as being part of the government’s official refugee programme and a letter from the New Zealand Immigration Service – Quota Branch.
  • For family reunification refugees, you should have the sponsor’s letter from the New Zealand Immigration Service showing their refugee status. 
  • Asylum seeker refugees are considered individually.

For New Zealand-born students you must have evidence that at least one parent is an immigrant or former refugee.

You do not need to send this evidence for funding purposes, but you should keep this evidence for your school records.

Applying for ESOL funding for new students

Use this form if your school did not receive ESOL funding in the last funding round.

Download the ESOL funding application form and save onto your computer.

ESOL funding application forms [XLSX, 76 KB]

Enter all new students’ details and ELLP assessment scores into the ESOL funding application form. Include each student’s NSN (national student number).

Use the standard names for country of birth, ethnicity and first language.

List of country, ethnicity and language [DOCX, 32 KB]

If you received ESOL funding in the last round, add new students to your current status list document using the tabs labelled: New NZ-born, new migrant and new former refugee.

Applying for existing ESOL funded students

To apply for funding for existing students, update the status list which was sent to your school after the last funding round.

If you have not received your most recent status list or you have misplaced it, email:

Follow the instructions included in the status list document.

Submit your application

Save the completed application on your computer.

Email the application in the Excel format by the closing date to

Don't submit PDF or paper versions.

Copy your Principal into the email when you submit the ESOL funding application.

We'll inform your school of the ESOL funding allocation and send an updated status list of the funded students approximately 6–7 weeks after applications close.


Your school must update each ESOL funded student’s record of progress every six months.

Keep all the records relating to a student’s ESOL funding and assessments, as these may be needed for our verification. If an ESOL-funded student leaves your school, make sure all these records go with their file to their new school.

Every three years, an ESOL verifier will visit or phone your school to discuss:

  • how you identify eligible students and assess their learning needs
  • the support programmes your school provides
  • the assessment records that support the funding application.

They'll also help you with information about ESOL resources and training available.

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