Behaviour Support

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

Level of complianceMain audienceOther


  • Teachers and Kaiako
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Early Learning Services
  • Specialist Staff
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Boards

Schools and early learning services can choose to engage with Behaviour Support services, to assist them in managing challenging student behaviour.

Who to contact

For:  Contact:
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.

School aged

The Behaviour Support 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.

Support can be requested by contacting 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.

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.

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. 

Behaviour Support options



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 office.

Other training

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.

For an individual child 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.

Funding for a short term response

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.

Traumatic Incident Teams

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.
Students needing 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 Te Kahu Tōī 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.

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