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NZSL Services

📢 NZSL@School 2024 funding update!


The purpose of the NZSL@School service (NZSL@School) is to strengthen the provision of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) for Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) ākonga who best access their learning in NZSL, and to increase the frequency of use and fluency of NZSL by these ākonga who best access their school environment. The aim is to raise or maintain the educational achievement and wellbeing of DHH ākonga to the equivalent of their hearing peers.

The 2024 Ministry of Education criteria for NZSL@School Funding is for DHH ākonga:

  • Who are Deaf/ Hard of Hearing (DHH) and
  • Who are enrolled in a mainstream school, kura kaupapa, Māori medium school, or a specialist school other than Ko Taku Reo, and
  • Who best access their learning in NZSL.

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.

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.

Roles within the NZSL Services Team

  • Oversees the upskilling of Communication Education Support Workers (CESWs) through mentoring and teaching NZSL and other appropriate PLD. The CESWs are funded by NZSL@School but employed by the local school.

  • Works alongside a number of stakeholders to ensure Deaf/HH ākonga and their support teams receive the most appropriate NZSL resources.

  • Provides hand-on support to our Deaf and hard of hearing tamariki and the ‘pod’ supporting that child. Supported by three Tutor Co-Leads and the NZSL Tutor Operational Lead.

  • Provides bilingual administration support for the NZSL Services Team.

  • Assesses NZSL development to inform and guide pedagogical practice and language development for the support team working with NZSL users in the mainstream.

  • Supports and mentors the use of various strategies (including NZSL) to facilitate more effective communication between Deaf and Hearing and growing stronger Deaf/hearing partnerships within our school and in local schools. Works alongside the NZSL Tutor Operational Lead to support best practice of NZSL Teaching.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • No, any student who fits the criteria stipulated by the Ministry of Education is eligible.

  • The responsibility of submitting the form is that of the school the student is enrolled in. This application should be completed collaboratively between the parents/whānau, the ākonga (where age-appropriate) and any other relevant members of the student's support team such as AoDC, RTD, SENCO.

  • (We are currently reviewing and developing our reapplication process to streamline the continuation of service)

    From 2024 onwards, all NZSL@School Support, including NZSL tutor support, will need to be reapplied for annually. You can apply for funding at any time of the year, for example, when a New Entrant begins or if a Deaf or HoH student moves to your school mid-year. We begin asking for applications for the following school year in Term 3. Our aim is to inform schools 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. This information is important as you will need to know the exact number of Teacher Aide hours of support your school is receiving for your student. There may be instances where you have submitted an ORS application but are still awaiting an outcome. If this is the case please contact us directly to discuss.

  • The application asks you to indicate what language your student uses at school and at home. 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 are unable to 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 (CESW) was created to describe this specialist role.

    Please see the attached job description.

  • In some instances, the learning needs of the student cannot be met by the CESW resource. Please see the attached document that details the difference between these two roles.

    Differences between an EI and CESW

  • An Educational Interpreter (EI) is appropriate in situations where the content of the information presented is more complex. We recognise there may be instances where an EI is required during the school day such as at an assembly when information is being delivered at a faster pace. Please note: for a student to benefit from an EI in these situations, they must have a high level of receptive NZSL.

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

  • The ORS T/A contribution your school receives is often not enough to cover the actual hourly rate you pay your CESW. For example, the ORS hourly rate that your school receives may be $23, but the actual hourly rate of the CESW may be $26. From 2023 NZSL@School has covered the shortfall between the ORS funding and the actual hourly rate of the CESW. This additional funding is called Supplementary Access Funding.

    Please see table for a visual breakdown of this.

  • 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).

Please note applications will take approximately 4-5 weeks to be completed (excluding term breaks).

Contact NZSL@School for more information.