Behaviour Support

If a child or young person is having extreme and ongoing behaviour challenges, your local Behaviour Support team can help.

Who to contact

Access Behaviour Support through your local Ministry office

Support to manage challenging behaviour

Where possible, schools manage challenging behaviour by preventing dangerous situations developing or using de-escalation techniques to calm things down.

Download the updated (September 2017) Guidelines for Registered Schools in New Zealand on the Use of Physical Restraint [PDF, 279 KB]. These include strategies for preventative and de-escalation techniques. Time Out, for example, is still an acceptable method of de-escalation, whereas seclusion is not.

Early years

Early intervention services can provide support for families and early childhood educators who are concerned about the behaviours of younger children until they start school.  Support can be requested by contacting your local Ministry office.

Local Ministry office

School aged

The service is for students in Years 1-10 who behave in a way that:

  • significantly affects their learning
  • risks their safety or the safety of other people
  • gets in the way of positive relationships with other people.

How Behaviour Support works

Many children and young people who experience challenges with their behaviour have underlying difficulties with their learning and/or understanding what is said to them and with social communication.

A Ministry representative will work with your staff, the child/student, their whānau, and specialists such as psychologists, RTLBs, speech language therapists and kaitakawaenga to assess the child’s/student’s needs and co-design tailored support for them.

A lead practitioner will support the process and facilitate the creation of an individualised learning support plan for the child/student. 

Professional learning and development can also be provided to support your school or early learning service to help you to understand and manage challenging behaviour. 

Training workshop for behaviour management 

The Understanding Behaviour, Responding Safely (UBRS) workshop is delivered in modules for whole-school staff groups focusing on prevention and de-escalation strategies.   It's delivered by trained staff who are experienced in behaviour management and who will also provide on-going support.  Request this from your local Ministry of Education office.

Local Ministry offices

Some of the students with the most challenging behaviours will have specific physical intervention and restraint techniques in their individual student plans. Where the Ministry is part of the team supporting such a student specific training for staff in using those techniques is available.

Behaviour Crisis Response

The Behaviour Crisis Response Service is an extension of the behaviour support available from your local Learning Support team.  It is designed to provide schools with immediate, skilled support in emergency behaviour situations around an individual child. This service complements the Interim Response Fund.  In responding to behaviour crises, learning support staff can work with your school and whānau to assess the situation and tailor a response that:

  • stabilises the school system
  • makes sure everyone is safe
  • prevents the situation from getting worse
  • puts an immediate plan in place which will link to an effective and sustained behaviour plan
  • links to other resources and support.

The Interim Response Fund can be used to provide additional resources to schools when a student’s challenging behaviour reaches a crisis point. This fund is available to keep students engaged in learning following a significantly challenging behavioural event. It gives funding for a short term response while a more comprehensive intervention plan is developed.

Interim Response Fund

Traumatic Incident Teams deal with supporting schools and early learning services following a crisis or emergency, whether caused by people, or by natural disasters. Traumatic Incidents are those that impact on the functioning and wellbeing of those involved with the school and its systems.

Dealing with an emergency or traumatic incident

If the student needs more intensive support

A small number of children and young people who have highly complex and challenging behavioural, social, and/or learning needs will need extra help and support through the Ministry’s Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS).

Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS)

Other behaviour supports

Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) supports schools to promote positive behaviour and create inclusive learning environments that foster well-being and achievement for all children and young people.  There are a number of programmes available to improve the behaviour and wellbeing of children and young people.

Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L)(external link)

The PB4L Incredible Years programmes provide teachers and parents/caregivers of children aged 3-8 years with approaches to help promote positive behaviour and social skills, creating a more positive learning environment for students.

PB4L School-Wide looks at behaviour and learning from a whole-of-school as well as an individual child perspective. The framework is based on international evidence.  PB4L School-Wide is helping New Zealand schools build a culture where positive behaviour and learning is a way of life. The framework can be tailored to your school’s own environment and cultural needs.

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