Learning Support (previously Special Education) Update

The Ministry of Education is working with sector partners to strengthen inclusion and modernise how learning support (previously called special education) is delivered across the education sector.

This page outlines the Ministry’s next steps to modernise a fully inclusive education system that puts the progress and achievement of all children and young people at its very heart.

We’ve heard from families and from educators that the special education system can be hard to navigate, with too many hurdles to get to the right support. Parents have also told us that they don’t always get support for their child soon enough.

The Learning Support Update is about putting learners who need support at the heart of everything we do, so they get the right support, when they need it.

These are the next steps in the Learning Support Update.

On 24 November 2016, the Minister of Education Hon. Hekia Parata announced the next steps in improving learning support (external link) for children and young people.

The Learning Support Update will implement:

  • A single point of access for parents, whānau and schools
  • Localised Learning Support Teams who will assess and develop tailored and dedicated solutions
  • A lead practitioner
  • The collection of individual student data related to learning support and achievement.

We’re committed to getting it right

Making changes to learning support is complex and we know we need to take a bit of time to get it right.

We’re going to take a phased approach, starting with the Learning Support Pilot and then nationwide roll out:

Changing the language

We have had consistent feedback that the use of language and words like “special education” and “special needs” can create barriers for children and young people.

To create a more inclusive environment, we’re changing this language and instead, will use the term “learning support."

We will work with other organisations 

We will work with the Human Rights Commission, IHC, the Special Education Principals’ Association New Zealand (SEPAnz) and other organisations as we consider the results from the pilot and how to successfully implement the changes nationwide.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the Learning Support Update email learning.support@education.govt.nz or phone 0800 622 222.


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