Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA)

SESTA is a Ministry of Education (the Ministry) transport service that assists children and young people with safety and/or mobility needs that prevent them from travelling independently to school. While responsibility for getting students to and from school rests with caregivers, the Ministry may provide assistance in cases where extra assistance is required to make the journey as safe as practicable for the student.

On this page

SESTA application form

Applications for SESTA should be completed together by the caregiver and the school.

Caregivers can download the SESTA application form on the Parents website (external link) and this should be completed with the support of the enrolling school.

The form is also available from your local Ministry of Education office.

If caregivers want to submit an application for SESTA for the following year or make changes to arrangements, the applications should be processed as soon as possible and be received at the Ministry’s National Office no later than the date shown on the application form.

If the availability of transport affects enrolment decisions, this should be discussed with the school and the school's Learning Support Coordinator, or Learning Support Manager at the local Ministry of Education office.

While the Ministry endeavours to process fully completed applications as quickly as possible, if a transport provider needs to purchase a vehicle or recruit a trained and police-cleared driver this can take several weeks. The Ministry requests that applications for new or amended services are normally submitted at least one full school term before the service is required.

Privacy

The personal information on the form is collected for the purposes of assessing eligibility for SESTA and for reporting and evaluation purposes. The information collected by the Ministry may be used or disclosed by the Ministry only for these purposes.

The information will be used and held by the Ministry under the Privacy Act 1993 (and, where applicable, the Health Information Privacy Code 1994), and caregivers have the right to see the information and ask us to correct it.

Please note that all SESTA vehicles are fitted with internal security cameras. The camera footage is only able to be reviewed by Police, and we require our operators to keep at least the last 168 hours of footage available.

Eligibility for SESTA

Students are eligible for SESTA if they meet all three criteria:

  • are between the ages of 5 and 21 years old, and
  • have safety and/ or mobility needs that prevent them from travelling independently to and from school or accessing public transport or a school bus. A safety need may be where a significant risk of harm or danger to the student, or to others, exists during the journey to and from school. This may be due to challenges such as epilepsy, communication and social skills, understanding, self-management and decision making. A mobility need may be due to challenges such as reduced mobility, fatigue, medical conditions or limited motor skills; and
  • are attending the closest state school, state-integrated school or other educational setting that they can enrol at.

Students are not eligible for SESTA if they are:

  • on ACC (caregivers need to Contact ACC (external link) )
  • boarding at residential schools, and need transport to and from home for the weekend or holidays
  • attending a private school.

Eligibility is assessed based on the needs of the student, not the caregiver. The Ministry does not take into account the caregiver’s financial position, hours of work or other unique circumstances when reviewing an application.

Safe Travel Plan

Caregivers may be required to fill out a Safe Travel Plan to support their SESTA application in order to share key information that supports the safe travel of a student. A Safe Travel Plan form is to be completed by the caregiver and school when the student’s behaviours pose a risk to themselves or others while on a vehicle service, or their medical, physical or other conditions mean that they may require assistance during transport.

Download the form from the Parents website. (external link)

What service does the Ministry provide?

The Ministry provides two types of services through SESTA. Eligible students will receive either a place in a vehicle (this is not always guaranteed) or a conveyance allowance payment, to help contribute to the cost of the caregiver transporting the student to and from the closest school they can enrol at.

The closest school is defined as the closest state school, state-integrated school or other educational setting that the student can enrol at. This may be:

  • The closest age and gender appropriate school to the student’s primary residence, and at which they can enrol; or
  • A Regional Director of Education determines that because of the student’s specific needs they have to enrol at another school; or
  • The student is attending a special school under an agreement under section 9 of the Education Act; or
  • The student is subject to a directed enrolment under section 11P of the Education Act 1989.

A place in a vehicle

When deciding whether a place in a vehicle will be provided, the Ministry will consider:

  • The safety of the student, other students and driver on the service;
  • The length of time in a SESTA vehicle. Journey times (one way) should preferably be no longer than 40 minutes and must not exceed an hour; and
  • The cost and availability of the service.

Transport for a student between school and an approved alternative home address may be arranged if:

  • respite or after school care arrangements have been made at an approved address other than the student's usual home
  • the student has more than one home address because of shared custody.

Transport between the student’s home and alternate address is the responsibility of the caregiver.

Specialist equipment funding form

Students who are eligible for SESTA can apply for Specialist Equipment Funding. This funding is to pay for equipment that is used for transporting the student to and from school.

Download the form from the Parents website. (external link)

Conveyance allowance

If the student is otherwise eligible for SESTA but is not attending the closest school that they can enrol at, assistance will be provided in the form of a conveyance allowance to help contribute to the cost of transport to the closest school.

Changes of circumstance

Please refer to the information below on the processes for the various types of changes:

  • Change of School or Address: Requests for a change of enrolling school or residential address will require a new SESTA application to be completed. This application will require Section B to be completed by Learning Support, who will then pass the application on to School Transport.
  • Change of Timetable, Satellite or Respite Address: For a change of Timetable, Satellite or a change or addition of a respite address, complete the Change of Information Form and send it to School Transport at school.transport@education.govt.nz.
    Download the form from the Parents website. (external link)
  • Cancellation of service: If a student no longer requires a SESTA service please notify School Transport at school.transport@education.govt.nz

Appealing a decision

If a caregiver wants to appeal a decision, they should contact their school’s Learning Support Coordinator (or the Learning Support Manager at the local Ministry of Education office), and complete the appeal form.

The school’s Learning Support Coordinator will support the caregivers through the appeal process.

Download the form from the Parents website. (external link)

Responsibilities of drivers, school staff, and caregivers

Drivers, school staff, and caregivers all have responsibilities when using SESTA.

Download the PDF information from the Parents website. (external link)

These responsibilities include obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Vulnerable Children Act.

Contact

Caregivers should first contact their school for help.

Schools can contact the Learning Support Manager at their local Ministry of Education office.

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