Behaviour Support - Information for teachers and schools

Learn about the Severe Behaviour Service. Our staff have specialist knowledge, strategies and experience that your school can call on.

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

If contacted, the Severe Behaviour Service can help children who have severe behavioural difficulties.

The Behaviour Service

This Behaviour Service is for students in Years 1–10 who behave in a way that significantly affects their learning or safety, other students’ learning or safety, or their own ability to relate positively with other people. The focus is on students whose main difficulty is behaviour, which is severe.

Good behaviour can be taught and difficult behaviour unlearned.

Our behaviour teams provide parents and teachers with appropriate strategies and support so you can make changes to a student’s learning environment, both at home and in the classroom, to help your student learn more positive ways of coping and relating to others.

How to access this support 

Your school can apply for the service in consultation with the student’s parent/s.

Contact your local Learning Support office to make a referral.

We encourage parents to discuss their concerns with the teacher, principal or a kaitakawaenga (Learning Support Māori cultural advisor) if they believe their child has a significant behaviour difficulty that needs to be addressed.

You might have someone on the staff whose role it is to work with the parent/s, such as a Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

Support available through the service

A Learning Support caseworker, such as a psychologist or a special education advisor, will work with your student, their family/whānau and you to explore the issues that contribute to your student’s behaviour. You will all develop strategies to manage and change their learning environment and behaviour.

Everyone will work together to develop an individual education plan, or an individual behaviour plan. When this is done, the caseworker will work closely with you and the family/whānau to implement the strategies in the plan. Parents are expected to be involved so they understand how the behaviours are being managed and how to back this up at home.

A kaitakawaenga might also help your school to work in culturally appropriate and responsive ways if your student identifies as Māori.

Other support

Support Description
Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) Your school might be able to access Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) who work in a similar way to Learning Support behaviour staff. RTLB can provide teacher guidance and support for whole-class or individual behaviour and learning issues. 
Special Education Grant Your school also receives a Special Education Grant, which can be used to help students with learning Support needs. Your school can spend this in a variety of ways – on resources, teacher training and teacher’s aide time and for individual students or groups of students.
Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) If your student is being supported by the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme and has severe behaviour issues, then these will be addressed as part of their ORS service.
Other agencies Depending on the situation, other agencies such as child mental health and/or social service agencies might be a more appropriate option. If this is the case, Learning Support staff will discuss referring your student to these agencies.

Help for students who need more intensive support

Some students in the behaviour service may need more support.

Support Description
Te Kahu Tōī, Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS)

A small number of children have such highly complex and challenging behaviour, social or education needs that they need extra help and support through the Ministry’s Te Kahu Tōī, Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS).

This intensive support is provided through a student’s local school and community and may include a period of support from a residential special school where needed.

Children and young people can be referred to the IWS by Learning Support staff, or a Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour following discussion with the child’s school and parents or caregivers.

Behaviour Crisis Response Service

If you have an emergency behaviour situation in your school, you can call on specialists from the Ministry of Education’s Behaviour Crisis Response Service. They can provide you with immediate support to help:

  • stabilise your school
  • make sure everyone is safe
  • prevent the situation deteriorating further
  • put an immediate plan in place that will link to an effective and sustained behaviour plan
  • link you to other resources and support.

This service complements the Interim Response Fund, which can be used to stabilise a situation and meet a student’s immediate needs while a comprehensive intervention plan is put in place.

Additional help with behaviour issues in your school

Support Description
Incredible Years(external link)

Incredible Years is a series of programmes that help reduce challenging behaviours in children and increase their social and self-control skills. If you have children with challenging behaviour in your classroom the teacher programme will:

  • provide you with strategies to help improve the way things are managed in your classroom
  • help you promote pro-social behaviour in the children in your class
  • help you reduce a child’s aggression and non-cooperation with their peers and teachers.

Incredible Years also has programmes for parents.

School-Wide(external link) The School-Wide approach is an ongoing framework that supports schools to create a culture where positive behaviour and learning thrive.

The School-Wide framework is consistently applied across both classroom and non-classroom settings (such as the playground, corridors, buses and toilets). Expectations of each other within the school are clearly defined and taught. The focus is on:

  • preventing problem behaviour
  • developing students’ social skills
  • reinforcing desired behaviour
  • consistently addressing and reducing inappropriate behaviours
  • using data-based assessment and problem-solving to address concerns.

Every year there are opportunities to participate in the Incredible Years programme and in School-Wide. Contact your local Learning Support office.

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