Behaviour support - Information for parents and whānau

Sometimes ākonga | students need additional support with social and emotional learning to naturally thrive. Our Learning Support team can assist kura | schools and whānau | families.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Parents, caregivers and whānau

  • Teachers and kaiako
  • Early Childhood Services
  • Other services

We understand that seeking support for your tamaiti | child’s learning can be challenging.  

Better outcomes for all are more likely to be achieved when families, learners, schools, the Ministry and community work together. Learning support practitioners can work with you to support your child, their school and community to create learning environments that promote wellbeing.  

About the support

Learning support practitioners work alongside teachers and whānau to understand concerns, what's important and what everyone wants to achieve. Together we then develop day-to-day teaching and learning strategies to help meet these goals.

We understand that learning needs can vary. That's why we offer a range of supports and specialists including: Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour (RTLB), Kaitakawaenga, Learning Support Advisors, Speech-Language Therapists, Physiotherapists, Psychologists.

Our Service Managers work collaboratively with you and the school | kura to identify the most appropriate specialist to meet each student's individual needs.

Can my child get this support?

Every child develops at their own pace, but if your child is experiencing significant challenges with relationships and social and emotional learning help is available.

The Ministry offers a range of services, tools, resources, and websites to understand and support ākonga who are neurodiverse. These tools create and sustain healthy systems that enhance ākonga, whānau and community resilience. Learning support staff can support schools to implement these resources in a way that supports their needs in their environments.

For specific and unique needs during early years, Early Intervention staff support mokopuna and their whānau. Once at school, a student can receive support through the behaviour service.

How to apply

Is your child struggling to connect with others or having trouble keeping up in class? Their kaiako | teacher or principal can be a great first step. Together, you can explore if support from the Ministry of Education's learning support team might be helpful.

What happens next

After a request for support has been made, a learning support practitioner will reach out to discuss your child's needs. If further assistance is required, they'll collaborate with you and the school towards lasting positive change.

Your child's learning support team

Your child will be supported by a dedicated team, including learning support practitioners, teachers, and of course, you and your whānau. This collaboration is key to making real progress.

You are the expert on your child. You know their strengths, challenges, and what's happening in their life. Sharing this knowledge is crucial effective supports.

Teachers embedding support in daily learning

Teachers | kaiako play a vital role. They can seamlessly integrate agreed-upon strategies into your child's daily learning routine, making support a natural part of the classroom experience.

Over time, the team gathers information on what helps your child thrive. This knowledge is used to enhance support in all their learning environments, from the classroom to home.

The entire team works together to monitor your child's progress and reflects on the outcomes and how they are impacting your child's learning.

What the planning meeting entails

You have complete control over who is involved in the planning meeting. It can be a small group or include anyone you feel is important.

Here's what you can expect:

  • You, your child, the school, and the learning support practitioner will come together as a team.
  • We'll work together to understand your child's current situation and identify areas for improvement.
  • We'll together develop strategies to help your child build essential skills, leading to better learning and stronger relationships with others. These strategies may involve adjustments to their learning environment, tasks, and routines.
  • The team will focus on your child's aspirations, creating clear goals alongside a realistic timeframe for achieving them.

The plan will outline how everyone involved can contribute, along with any resources or additional support needed.

The people who will work with your child

Depending on your child’s needs, the following people might work with your child, their school and you:

  • Psychologists or learning support advisors can help work out what might be contributing to your child’s difficulty and what support they’ll need. They can help you and your child’s teachers develop strategies to improve your child’s social and other skills.
  • Kaitakawaenga or Māori cultural advisors work with your child’s team and your whānau if you or your child identify as Māori. They help everyone work in culturally appropriate and responsive ways.

 Other support available for your child

Support About
Your child’s teacher or principal If your child’s needs are not significant enough for the Severe Behaviour Service, discuss your concerns with your child’s teacher or principal.
Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) Your school can look into a referral to Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) who are employed by groups of schools. RTLB are trained teachers who work with children experiencing learning or behaviour difficulties. They can work with teachers, giving them special training, or they can work with individual children or groups of children.
Special Education Grant Schools also receive a Special Education Grant that they can use to support children with special education needs. They can spend this in a variety of ways, including on resources, teacher training and teacher’s aide time and on individual students or groups of students.
Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) If your child is being supported by the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) and has severe behaviour issues, these will be addressed as part of their ORS services.
The Incredible Years Parent programme(external link)

If your child is aged between three and eight, you might be able to take part in the Incredible Years programme. This is a highly effective programme that aims to strengthen families by improving parenting skills and helping children develop problem-solving skills.

If you go on this programme, some of the skills you’ll learn include:

  • How to play/spend special time together
  • Praising and rewarding children
  • Communicating positively
  • Setting limits
  • Dealing with disobedience, selectively using distractions, ignoring, time out and other strategies
  • Helping children to problem-solve.

Parents who have been through the programme speak highly of the positive long-term changes they’ve experienced. Contact your local Learning Support office if you want to learn more about the Incredible Years programme.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback