Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA)
Guidelines for applying to SESTA including eligibility, what services the Ministry offers, how to appeal your application and more.
|Level of compliance||Main audience||Other|
Schools or parents, caregivers and whānau wishing to apply for Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA) need to complete the application together. These guidelines will support your application, including accessing the forms necessary to submit to the Ministry.
- Overview of Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA)
- How to apply for SESTA
- Submitting your application
- What services the Ministry provides
- Changes of circumstance
- Appealing a decision
- Responsibilities of drivers, school staff and caregivers
- Further information
Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA) is a Ministry of Education 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.
Applications for SESTA should be completed together by the caregiver and the school. There are two ways to apply for SESTA:
- Online: fill in the online SESTA form(external link) (recommended)
- Paper-based form: download the SESTA application form [DOCX, 220 KB] or pick up a copy from your local Ministry of Education office.
We recommend filling in the online SESTA form over the paper-based application form. The online SESTA form is user-friendly. Process times are quicker and it is more secure than the paper-based form. The online SESTA form also offers the ability to track your application through the SESTA approval process.
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 another educational setting that they can enrol at.
Students are not eligible for SESTA if they are:
- receiving ACC for a short period of time (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.
Applications should be processed as soon as possible and sent to the Ministry’s National Office before the date stated on the form. This applies to both applications for the following year and to make changes to current arrangements.
If the availability of transport affects enrolment decisions, this should be discussed with the school and their Learning Support Coordinator or Manager, at the local Ministry 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.
Key to note
The Ministry requests that applications for new or amended services are normally submitted at least one full school term before the service is required.
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(external link) is to be completed by the caregiver and school when the student’s behaviours pose a risk to themselves or others while on vehicle service, or their medical, physical or other conditions mean that they may require assistance during transport.
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.
A place in a vehicle
When deciding whether a place in a vehicle will be provided, the Ministry will consider the below.
|A place in a vehicle||
|Transport to an approved alternative home address||
Note: Transport between the student’s home and alternate address is the responsibility of the caregiver.
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.
The ‘closest school’ is defined as the closest state school, state-integrated school or another educational setting where the student can enrol.
This may be:
- the closest age and gender appropriate school to the student’s primary residence, and at which they can enrol
- a Regional Director of Education determines that because of the student’s specific needs they have to enrol at another school
- the student is attending a specialist school under an agreement under Section 37 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link)
- the student is subject to a directed enrolment under clause 14 of Schedule 20 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link).
Find out more at our conveyance allowance page.
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.
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|
|Cancellation of service||
If a student no longer requires a SESTA service notify School Transport via email: School.Transport@education.govt.nz
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 SESTA appeals form.
The school’s Learning Support Coordinator will support the caregivers through the appeal process.
Find further information on driver, caregiver and school staff responsibilities when using SESTA.
These responsibilities include obligations under:
- the Health and Safety at Work Act
- the Vulnerable Children Act.
The personal information on the SESTA application 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 2020 (and, where applicable, the Health Information Privacy Code 2020, 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.
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