Observation visit process for ORS

If verifiers are unable to reach a decision on the basis of all the applications received for a student or child, an observation visit to the early childhood service or school may be undertaken. Learn about the observation process for ORS.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


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

Schools should be aware of the observation visit process that is a part of the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme.

Reasons for an observation visit

The reason for the visit is because there is a history of repeated applications and reviews to the ORS and the child.

A visit isn’t required when there is inconsistent or insufficient information in the application that provides an unclear picture of the child or student’s needs.

Observation visits are not completed for applications made on the Early Childhood Very High Needs form.

Observation visit procedure

Before the observation visit, the panel of verifiers note what led them to be uncertain about eligibility. This provides a focus for the visit.

Two verifiers visit the child's usual education setting: a school, early childhood centre or home.

The visit should provide verifiers with:

  • confirmation of the information in the application
  • additional information that hasn’t previously been submitted to the verifiers.

The critical part of the visit is to compare information from the application/s with what verifiers read, see and hear during the visit. The visit is not a hands-on assessment of an individual child using tools such as formal observation, criterion-based assessment, or psychometric tests. Verifiers don’t carry out any activity that can be perceived to be a ‘one-off assessment by someone who doesn’t know the child well.

The verifiers carry out the following tasks during a visit to an individual child.

Checking documentation

Verifiers will look at the documentation that the school, early childhood centre, parents and specialists provide. They look to validate the information in the ORS application/s.

Verifiers will record any information held by the early childhood centre or school that is relevant to the criteria but isn’t included in the application form. They note the history and outcomes of interventions for the child.


During the course of a day, verifiers observe the child engaging in their regular, everyday learning programme including any of the usual supports that are in place such as teacher-aide or education support worker hours. We assume that children with high and very high needs will demonstrate their difficulties with learning achievements and learning dispositions or key competencies in their usual learning environments most of the time.

The verifiers record what they observe in the form of notes.

Meetings with parents and members of the team

Meetings provide an opportunity for anyone involved in making the application to:

  • elaborate on information about child behaviours and their contexts
  • discuss the understandings the verifiers have from reading the application
  • share new information (oral and written) not reported elsewhere.

Meetings provide an opportunity for verifiers to give details about the criteria, verification process, and use of ORS resources. In some situations, the verifiers may advise applicants on the type of information required for a safe decision and suggest that the educator submit new information for a review.

What happens after an observation visit?

Verifiers write a report to the full panel of available verifiers stating what they read, saw and heard during the visit. The report collates all new information that, together with all other previous information, enables the panel to reach a consensus decision about eligibility.

The observation visit report

The content of the report will be a record of what verifiers see, read and hear. The language used in the report will be neutral and not lead other verifiers towards a pre-determined decision.

Verifiers will record any information relevant to the criteria even when it’s not part of the original focus for the visit.

The report written by the two visiting verifiers is an internal document for the other verifiers. It’s also part of the total record of information held by the Ministry of Education about the child. As such, it’s subject to the Official Information Act and the Privacy Act, so will be made available to those covered by that legislation. As part of a child's record it will be used in any review or appeal.

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