Criterion 1 for ORS: Very high learning needs

Learn about ORS Criterion 1. The students that meet this criterion have extremely delayed cognitive development and are considered to have a very high ongoing level of needs. At age five, they are at the earliest levels of child development. These students need total adaptation of all curriculum content.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Teachers and Kaiako
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Learning Support Coordinators and SENCOs
  • Learning Support Specialist Staff
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau
  • Boards
  • Non-Government Agencies
  • Disability Sector

This guidance provides assistance for schools and parents/caregivers/whānau wishing to apply for the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme to support a child with high or very high ongoing needs. To be eligible for ORS funding, a child must meet one or more of the ORS criteria.

Typical levels of need for Criteria 1

To meet Criterion 1 these children are, for example, learning to:

  • explore through their senses by, say, putting objects in their mouths
  • wave bye-bye in response
  • take turns at making sounds
  • respond to their name
  • imitate a simple action
  • visually track people moving nearby
  • smile at a familiar person.

Throughout their schooling, students who meet Criterion 1 will require very high levels of specialist teacher input and other specialist interventions to learn and make progress.

Towards the end of their schooling, the students may achieve some early developmental goals. When they leave school, they will need fully supported living, working, and recreational and leisure services.

A brief profile: At 4 years 9 months, Jenny meets Criterion 1

Jenny can finger-feed and likes to help with hand-over-hand spoon-feeding. She drinks from a cup with a spout. Jenny sometimes raises her arms to help with undressing.

She shows no recognition when she's wet or soiled. Jenny has learned to walk in the last year.

Jenny's play consists of brief exploration with a few toys that she'll put in her mouth, tap or shake. She has some awareness of cause and effect. For example, she'll press one of the buttons on a board to hear an animal sound. Jenny will look at a noise-making toy presented from either side of her body.

She has recently started to notice an object she drops on the floor if it remains in sight. She'll look at it but not attempt to retrieve it. With support, Jenny can draw, paint and play with dough.

Jenny smiles at a familiar person and is starting to make babbling sounds. When she's content she'll smile and make happy noises. She shows she's unhappy by biting her hands and crying.

Students may meet other criteria instead

Students with delayed cognitive development may meet other criteria instead. Check to see which you should apply under.

Criterion Applies to students:
Criterion 5  Considered to have a high level of need, requiring less intervention
Criterion 9.1  Who have delayed cognitive development and 2 other areas of needs of need at a moderate or high level – hearing need, vision need, physical need, and language use and social communication

Apply for ORS

Find out how to Apply for ORS and download our application forms.

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