Teacher Aides in New Zealand: what do they do and how are they accessed?

April 30, 2024

A classroom of young boys and girls drawing on one large piece of paper. The children are wearing school uniform while their teacher watches.

The role of Teacher Aides in New Zealand 

The role of Teacher Aides (TAs) has evolved over recent years, writes RTLB (Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour) Cath Dyson.

TAs (also known as Learning Support Assistants and Teaching Assistants) are a valued resource, delivering a range of supports and interventions. According to research referenced by the Ministry of Education the biggest impact that TAs can have on student achievement is when they are “delivering structured interventions in one-to-one or small group settings”. 

Commonly TAs are now delivering specific programmes such as BSLA (Better Start Literacy Approach) and interventions such as Lego Therapy.  School leaders are recognising that TAs are a huge asset in the classroom and can provide specific support if they are trained effectively.  TAs often have the time to really get to know a student and can provide valuable information to the class teacher about how the student learns most effectively.   

TAs also have specific roles working one-on-one with just one or two students.  This may be because the student has certain needs that have to be managed within the school setting, such as toileting.  Students who have ORS (Ongoing Resourcing Scheme) or SHHNF (School High Health Needs Fund) will require this kind of one-on-one support. Students who have ICS (In Class Support) will also have one-on-one TA time, usually 30 minutes per day.  


How is Teacher Aide support accessed 

TAs are funded through the Ministry of Education.  There is a finite pool of funding, allocated by region.  If a student falls into the categories identified above, namely ORS, SHHNF or ICS they will receive TA support. As a parent you will be part of the application process for this support.  It is a lengthy application and requires a dedicated team (teacher, SENCO – Special Education Needs Coordinator and / or LSC – Learning Support Coordinator, possibly RTLB – Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour, the student and their whānau).  

ICS (In Class Support) is the most common type of one-on-one support provided by TAs.  This support is designed to meet the needs of learners who find accessing the curriculum challenging. With TA support these students can develop basic skills in Literacy and Numeracy and, ideally, experience learning success.  Due to finite funds the Ministry of Education can only grant ICS to the students who have the most need; sadly this means that a lot of students who would benefit from one-on-one support will miss out.  


Who else can provide support 

A school’s SENCO and / or LSC is a good starting point if you believe that your child needs support.  A meeting to discuss your concerns would be advisable, ideally with the SENCO / LSC, your child’s teacher and (depending on their age) your child.   

RTLBs (Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour) are able to access limited funds to provide students with TA support.  The student has to be on an RTLB roll, however, and the school has to request the service of RTLB (whānau cannot self-refer).   








Education Review Office. (2022). Working together: How teacher aides can have the most impact – summary  


Education Endowment Foundation. (2021). Making best use of teaching assistants: Summary of recommendations. Retrieved from: https://d2tic4wvo1iusb.cloudfront.net/production/eef-guidance-reports/teaching-assistants/TA_Recommendations_Summary.pdf?v=1713601093  






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