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NZSL Services


NZSL@School is a service for deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) learners whose primary language is New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). Its purpose is to strengthen the use and frequency of NZSL by these learners by providing access to daily, quality and quantity NZSL at school.

NZSL@School funds are available to learners:

  1. who are DHH and,
  2. who are enrolled in a mainstream school, Māori medium school, or a special education school (i.e. not Ko Taku Reo) and,
  3. whose primary language is NZSL i.e. they use NZSL on a daily, ongoing basis at home, and in their school community

How to apply

This service allocation should be co-developed between the parents/whānau, the ākonga (where age-appropriate) and the school, supported by RTD/AoDC/SENCO. The form must be completed and submitted by the school. See the link to the digital application form at the bottom of this page

Resource Allocation

Additional funding is reviewed on an annual basis and is not guaranteed for future years. Reapply in term 4 for the following year. NZSL tutor only can continue where an NZSL tutor is available. This is not reapplied for annually.

Educational Interpreter

In a limited number of situations, the funding for NZSL@School may provide for the use of trained NZSL Educational Interpreters. If you believe there is a need for an NZSL Educational Interpreter, please contact us.

For events such as assemblies, evening performances, and guest speakers to the school you may wish to request a trained NZSL interpreter.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • NZSL@School Funding covers the additional hours of Communication/Education Support Worker

    (C/ESW) time that students need over-and-above their ORS funded Teacher Aide hours. In most cases, this funding allows NZSL@School students to have the support of a C/ESW for up to 25hrs per week. Funds can also be used to contract an Educational Interpreter (EI) to support a student if there is a requirement.

  • You can apply for NZSL@School Funding by using the digital application form on our website. Each application is reviewed, and you may be contacted for further information or to discuss specific application details. Your application will then be addressed in a committee meeting, and you will receive a formal letter advising of its outcome. This process may take up to 4 weeks to complete.

    If your application is successful, this letter will outline the exact funding you will receive for your student and give instructions on our invoicing procedure.

    If you are applying for NZSL Tutor support, your letter will provide instructions on contacting your regional Tutor Co-Lead.

  • The responsibility of submitting the form is that of the school the student is enrolled in. The school may be better supported in completing the application by other professionals working with the student, such as AoDCs (Advisors of Deaf Children) or Ko Taku Reo RTDs (Resource Teachers of the Deaf). For new applications we recommend that consultation with your students’ family/whānau is also done prior to your submission. This will help you to make a more fully informed application.

  • NZSL@School Funding applications must be renewed every year. You can apply for Funding at any time (for example when a new entrant begins or if a Deaf or HoH student moves to your school mid-year), but all NZSL@School resourcing must be reviewed and reapproved annually. We begin asking for applications for the following school year in September. This ensures that schools are informed of their funding for the following year with time to confirm any required staffing.

    On page 1 of the digital application form, you will be asked to choose if you are submitting your application for a student for the first time, or if you are reapplying to continue receiving this resource. The form will then populate accordingly depending on the level of detail we require.

  • Yes, you will need to know the ORS (Ongoing Resourcing Scheme) status of your student before completing the application. Please be advised that Ko Taku Reo does not hold this information on file. This information is important later in the application as you will need to know the exact number of Teacher Aide hours of support your school is receiving for your student.

    For new applications where the student has not yet started school, it is important to know their start date before submitting this application. In these instances where an ORS application is underway, but not yet finalised, you may still apply, please just indicate this in the form.

  • New applications for Funding ask you to indicate what language your student uses at school. This is either receptive or expressive language. Receptive language is the understanding of information provided in a variety of ways such as sounds and words; movement and gestures; and signs and symbols. Expressive language is our ability to communicate our thoughts and feelings through words, gestures, signs, and/or symbols.

  • In Class support refers to the normal, timetabled hours that a student is in the classroom. Out of Class refers to irregular and extra-curricular activities such as Kapa Haka, school camps, special school assemblies and prizegiving’s, which take place outside of the normal school day hours. Approved funding for school camps consists of three additional hours per day (3pm to 6pm) for each day of the camp. Additional hours worked during school camps/trips is paid from the schools’ operational funding from 6pm until 8am. Please note we cannot fund any activities that are not part of the school’s educational and cultural program.

  • The Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding is allocated to students so they can access the support of a Teacher Aide. The role of Teacher Aide does not require the ability to use NZSL. Students who meet the criteria to receive NZSL@school Funding require specialist communication support through NZSL. The term Communication/Education Support Worker (C/ESW) was created to describe this specialist role and a job description for this role is available on request.

  • An Educational Interpreter (EI) is appropriate in Out of Class situations where the content of the information presented is of a high level and is also being presented at a much faster pace. Examples might be when a guest speaker is invited to the school or for events such as prizegiving or school assembly. At times such as this, it is important to balance the student's needs with those of the C/ESW. If the C/ESW is uncomfortable supporting the student, NZSL@School can consider providing funding for an EI.

    We recommend you source and make contact with your local EIs to ascertain interest, availability and hourly rate before completing your application.

  • In some instances, the student's learning needs will no longer be met by the C/ESW resource. In cases such as this, a contracted EI will better support the student to access their learning (when access to the curriculum becomes the student's primary need). Usually, this situation will apply to secondary school students.

    Differences between an EI and C/ESW

  • The NZSL tutor provides instruction on learning and using NZSL for the student, their classmates, the C/ESW, family/ whānau and class teachers.

  • The funding agreement for approved applications is between Ko Taku Reo and your school. However, you can request that other associates or professionals working with the student (within your organisation) are informed of the outcome. It is the school's responsibility to inform the student’s family/whānau of the result of the application.

  • All applications must be completed in full, except for those awaiting ORS confirmation (see question 5).

  • The funding rate for ORS T/A hours is often inadequate to cover the actual hourly salary rate of the C/ESW’s. For example, the ORS hourly rate that your school receives may be $23, but the actual hourly rate of the C/ESW may be $30. In previous years, schools have had to cover this shortfall for the ORS hours. NZSL@School Access Funding is paid at the actual hourly rate.

    From 2023 onward, NZSL@School will cover the shortfall between the ORS funding and the actual hourly rate of the C/ESW for the ORS hours. This extra funding will be named Supplementary Access Funding.

    This example shows what this might look like for a C/ESW employed for 25 hours per week whose rate is $30 per hour.

Contact NZSL@School for more information.