Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA)

Guidelines for applying to SESTA including eligibility, what services the Ministry offers, how to appeal your application and more.

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Inform

  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Boards
  • Learning Support Coordinators & Managers

Schools or parents, caregivers and whānau wishing to apply for SESTA need to complete the application together. These guidelines will support your application, including accessing the forms necessary to submit to the Ministry.

Overview

SESTA is a Ministry of Education transport service that assists children and young people with safety and/or mobility needs that prevent them from travelling independently to school. While responsibility for getting students to and from school rests with caregivers, the Ministry may provide assistance in cases where extra assistance is required to make the journey as safe as practicable for the student.

How to apply

Applications for SESTA should be completed together by the caregiver and the school. 

Eligibility table

Students are eligible for SESTA if they meet all three criteria:

  • are between the ages of 5 and 21 years old, and
  • have safety and/ or mobility needs that prevent them from travelling independently to and from school or accessing public transport or a school bus. A safety need may be where a significant risk of harm or danger to the student, or to others, exists during the journey to and from school. This may be due to challenges such as epilepsy, communication and social skills, understanding, self-management and decision making. A mobility need may be due to challenges such as reduced mobility, fatigue, medical conditions or limited motor skills; and
  • are attending the closest state school, state-integrated school or other educational setting that they can enrol at.

Students are not eligible for SESTA if they are:

  • on ACC (caregivers need to contact ACC(external link))
  • boarding at residential schools, and need transport to and from home for the weekend or holidays
  • attending a private school.

Eligibility is assessed based on the needs of the student, not the caregiver. The Ministry does not take into account the caregiver’s financial position, hours of work or other unique circumstances when reviewing an application.

Submitting your application

Applications should be processed as soon as possible and sent to the Ministry’s National Office before the date stated on the form. This applies for both applications for the following year and to make changes to current arrangements.

If the availability of transport affects enrolment decisions, this should be discussed with the school and their Learning Support Coordinator or Manager, at the local Ministry office.

While the Ministry endeavours to process fully completed applications as quickly as possible, if a transport provider needs to purchase a vehicle or recruit a trained and police-cleared driver this can take several weeks.

Key to note

The Ministry requests that applications for new or amended services are normally submitted at least one full school term before the service is required.

Safe Travel Plan

Caregivers may be required to fill out a Safe Travel Plan to support their SESTA application in order to share key information that supports the safe travel of a student.

A Safe Travel Plan form(external link) is to be completed by the caregiver and school when the student’s behaviours pose a risk to themselves or others while on a vehicle service, or their medical, physical or other conditions mean that they may require assistance during transport.

What services the Ministry provides

The Ministry provides two types of services through SESTA. Eligible students will receive either a place in a vehicle (this is not always guaranteed) or a conveyance allowance payment.

A place in a vehicle

When deciding whether a place in a vehicle will be provided, the Ministry will consider the below.

ScenarioConsiderations
A place in a vehicle
  • the safety of the student, other students and driver on the service
  • the length of time in a SESTA vehicle. Journey times (one way) should preferably be no longer than 40 minutes and must not exceed an hour)
  • the cost and availability of the service.
Transport to an approved alternative home address
  • respite or after school care arrangements have been made at an approved address other than the student's usual home
  • the student has more than one home address because of shared custody.

Note: Transport between the student’s home and alternate address is the responsibility of the caregiver.

Conveyance allowance

If the student is otherwise eligible for SESTA but is not attending the closest school that they can enrol at, assistance will be provided in the form of a conveyance allowance to help contribute to the cost of transport to the closest school.

The ‘closest school’ is defined as the closest state school, state-integrated school or other educational setting where the student can enrol.

This may be:

Find out more at our conveyance allowance page.

Specialist Equipment Funding form

Students who are eligible for SESTA can apply for Specialist Equipment Funding(external link). This funding is to pay for equipment that is used for transporting the student to and from school.

Changes of circumstance

Refer to the information below on the processes for the various types of changes.

Change of school or address Requests for a change of enrolling school or residential address will require a new SESTA application to be completed. This application will require Section B to be completed by Learning Support, who will then pass the application on to School Transport.
Change of Timetable, Satellite or Respite Address

For a change of Timetable, Satellite or a change or addition of a Respite address, complete the Change of Information Form(external link) and email it to School.Transport@education.govt.nz

Cancellation of service

If a student no longer requires a SESTA service notify School Transport via email: School.Transport@education.govt.nz.

Appealing a decision

If a caregiver wants to appeal a decision, they should contact their school’s Learning Support Coordinator (or the Learning Support Manager at the local Ministry of Education office), and complete the SESTA Appeals form(external link).

The school’s Learning Support Coordinator will support the caregivers through the appeal process.

Responsibilities of drivers, school staff and caregivers

Find further information on driver, caregiver and school staff responsibilities(external link) when using SESTA.

These responsibilities include obligations under:

  • the Health and Safety at Work Act
  • the Vulnerable Children Act.

Privacy

The personal information on the SESTA application form is collected for the purposes of assessing eligibility for SESTA and for reporting and evaluation purposes. The information collected by the Ministry may be used or disclosed by the Ministry only for these purposes.

The information will be used and held by the Ministry under the Privacy Act 2020 (and, where applicable, the Health Information Privacy Code 2020, and caregivers have the right to see the information and ask us to correct it.

Please note that all SESTA vehicles are fitted with internal security cameras. The camera footage is only able to be reviewed by Police, and we require our operators to keep at least the last 168 hours of footage available.

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