Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA)

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

Level of compliance Main audience Other

Inform

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

Overview

Specialised School Transport Assistance (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 the caregiver, the Ministry may provide assistance to make the journey as safe as practicable for the student.

How to apply for SESTA

Applications for SESTA should be completed together by the caregiver and the school. There are two ways to apply for SESTA:

We recommend filling in the online SESTA form over the paper-based application form. The online SESTA form is user-friendly, process times are quicker, and it is more secure than the paper-based form. The online SESTA form also offers the ability to track your application through the SESTA approval process.

Submitting your application

The Ministry requests that applications for new or amended services are submitted at least one full school term before the service is required. While the Ministry endeavours to process fully completed applications within 20 working days, vehicle arrangements can take several weeks if a transport provider needs to purchase a vehicle or secure a driver.

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

Eligibility criteria

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

  1. are between the ages of 5 and 21 years old, and

  2. 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

  3. are attending the closest state school, state-integrated school, or another educational setting that they can enrol at.

Students are not eligible for SESTA if they are:

  • receiving ACC for a short period of time (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

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 [PDF, 196 KB] is to be completed by the caregiver and school when the student’s behaviours pose a risk to themselves or others while on vehicle service, or their medical, physical or other conditions mean that they may require assistance during transport.

What services the Ministry provides

A place in a vehicle

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

  • 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 multiple addresses

The Ministry will consider transporting students between multiple addresses and schools where:

  • 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.

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 provided with a place on a vehicle, the Ministry will provide a conveyance allowance to contribute to the cost of transporting the student to school.

Find out more at our Conveyance allowance page.

Specialist Equipment Funding

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

Specialist Equipment Funding [DOCX, 104 KB]

Changes of circumstance

If a student’s travel requirements change, the Ministry needs to be notified. Refer to the below on the processes for the various types of changes.

Type of change Process required
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 [DOCX, 112 KB] 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.

SESTA appeals form [DOCX, 192 KB]

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

Responsibilities of drivers, school staff and caregivers

Caregivers, service providers, and the Ministry all have a role in ensuring the SESTA services provided operate efficiently and service the needs of students. To clarify the expectations on all parties involved in the day to day running of the services we have developed a useful reference guide.

SESTA driver, caregiver and school staff responsibilities(external link)

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