Inclusive Education

Under the Education and Training Act 2020, our board is required to ensure every student at St Matthew's Primary School Hastings can attain their highest possible standard in educational achievement, and that we cater for and are inclusive of students with differing needs. We do this by ensuring our school:

  • is a physically and emotionally safe environment for all students and staff (NELP Priority 1)
  • implements the relevant student rights under the Education and Training Act, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, and the Human Rights Act 1993
  • takes all reasonable steps to eliminate racism, stigma, bullying, and any other forms of discrimination within education and our school community
  • reflects Aotearoa New Zealand's cultural diversity (Education and Training Act, s.133)
  • gives effect to te Tiriti o Waitangi
  • maintains an inclusive learning community and culture that allows students to express their diverse identities.

Learners at the centre

Learners and their family/whānau are at the centre of St Matthew's Primary School Hastings. We empower our students to be engaged in their learning, and to experience success. This includes students who identify as LGBTQIA+, are disabled, have learning support needs, are neurodiverse, or come from diverse ethnic communities (NELP Priority 1).

We collaborate with our school community to understand the aspirations of learners and their family/whānau, and identify and respond to learner strengths, progress, and needs.

Incidents of racism, discrimination, or bullying are addressed through our harassmentbullying, and/or concerns and complaints policies.

We work with our students and their families/whānau to ensure our school environment and programmes reflect their identities and keep students engaged in school. This includes:

  • identifying any practical concerns and support required
  • discussing any concerns about student wellbeing and safety
  • discussing student privacy, preferred level of information sharing, and obtaining consent before publishing student information
  • using the preferred name and pronouns of students
  • identifying students and groups of students who are not achieving or are at risk of not achieving, and developing strategies to meet their needs.

At St Matthew's Primary School Hastings we recognise the diverse learning needs of our students, and the need for barrier-free access to education. We work with students and their families/whānau to identify and address any barriers that may stop students from accessing, participating in, or remaining engaged in education. This includes Māori and Pasifika learners, disabled learners, and those with learning support needs (NELP Priority 3).

Cultural and religious diversity

We aim to instil in our students an appreciation of the importance of diversity, cultural knowledge, identity, and the official languages of Aotearoa New Zealand. We respect and honour te Tiriti o Waitangi and give effect to it in all aspects of school life.

We recognise and value the different cultures represented in our school community, and prioritise inclusivity by:

  • supporting teachers to competently teach diverse learners, and make appropriate changes to teaching approaches if necessary
  • being sensitive to all religious beliefs and belief systems
  • supporting students and families whose first language is not English, including English language support for eligible students
  • celebrating festivals and significant holidays from a range of cultures
  • running our own cultural events and activities.

We respect the place of Ngā Tangata o Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa/Pasifika peoples and cultures, and acknowledge the diversity of Pasifika learners and their families. At St Matthew's Primary School Hastings, we support engagement and excellent outcomes for Pacific learners by engaging with the Ministry of Education's Action Plan for Pacific Education, and integrating diverse Pacific cultural values, histories, experiences, customs, and languages into curriculum areas, where appropriate.

We foster Pacific culture by supporting our Pasifika culture group, marking Pacific language weeks, and holding fono evenings. Fono evenings are an opportunity to engage with our school community and local Pacific families and communities to discuss educational needs and opportunities.

Sexuality and gender diversity

Schools have a responsibility to be inclusive learning environments for LGBTQIA+ students, including gender diverse students (NELP Priority 1). Inclusive learning environments aim to keep our school safe and to protect the mental and physical health and wellbeing of students. We take the views, beliefs, and customs of our community into consideration, while ensuring that the health and wellbeing of our students takes priority.

Our school creates an inclusive learning environment for our LGBTQIA+ students by:

  • teaching about respectful and inclusive behaviour and languages as part of our ongoing delivery of our vision and values, and the curriculum
  • dealing with any issues that may arise around sexuality or gender identity through our Supporting Student Wellbeing policy
  • addressing harassment, bullying, or discrimination through our harassmentbullying, and/or concerns and complaints policies
  • upholding the expectations of The Code | Ngā Tikanga Matatika by respecting the diversity of student identities, promoting the wellbeing of learners, and protecting them from harm.

Improving Educational Outcomes for Māori Students

Our charter includes aims that reflect the unique position of Māori culture in New Zealand society. These aims promote the value of te reo (Māori language) and tikanga Māori (Māori culture). Also see Recognition of Cultural Diversity.

The board and staff consult with the Māori community when preparing or amending our school charter, and when developing plans and targets for improving the achievement of Māori students.

These aims are in accordance with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and are legal requirements in relation to Māori under the Education Act 1989.

St Matthew's Primary School Hastings regularly monitors and reports on Māori student achievement. To ensure success for Māori students, St Matthew's Primary School Hastings:

  • uses the Ministry of Education’s 5-year plan, Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success: The Māori Education Strategy 2013–2017, in our thinking, planning, and action for Māori learners
  • tracks the achievement of all Māori students using our student management system (SMS)
  • identifies any areas where a Māori student’s educational achievement is not in line with their peers
  • ensures that support programmes for Māori students are provided, if necessary
  • supports staff in implementing effective practices that promote success for Māori students
  • evaluates the impact of these programmes and practices and uses this information in our self-review
  • reports regularly on the progress of Māori students to parents, the board, and the Ministry of Education.

At St Matthew's Primary School Hastings:

  • teachers foster a supportive learning environment that is caring, inclusive, non-discriminatory, and cohesive, and supports equitable learning outcomes
  • teachers are appraised annually for effective practice in aspects of the Treaty of Waitangi as defined by the New Zealand Teachers Code of Ethics and registered teachers' criteria
  • staff professional development includes te reo Māori me ona tikanga and cultural awareness.

Learning Support

At St Matthew's Primary School Hastings, we promote an inclusive culture where students are valued and respected. All students have the opportunity to achieve their potential, and to participate in school life with their peers.

Resourcing for staffing and support is included in the annual budgeting process. The school works within its funding constraints and annual budgets, prioritising all additional learning needs professionally and carefully.

Identifying learning support needs

Every student has the right to achieve success and make progress at school, regardless of their ability. Every student needing learning support also has the right to assistance to reach their potential.

The Ministry of Education's Learning Support Action Plan 2019–2025 sets out priority actions that help ensure children and young people get the right support, at the right time. Learning should be a positive experience for every young person, including those with learning support needs.

Students who may need learning support include:

  • neurodiverse learners and learners with disabilities, learning difficulties, communication or behaviour difficulties, and/or sensory or physical impairments
  • gifted learners
  • English language learners (ELL)
  • those who are not achieving, or at risk of not achieving
  • those at risk of disengaging.

See Identify Learning Support 

Communicating with parents

Schoolwide engagement and communication with parents and whānau are key aspects of delivering learning support. We support parents and whānau to seek appropriate support and advice, and involve them in decision-making about their child.

Organising learning support

Services work collaboratively within the Ministry of Education's Learning Support Delivery Model (LSDM) to organise learning support and support may be provided from a range of sources. See Students with learning support needs (Ministry of Education) for comprehensive information about available supports.

Resources provided may include therapy, staffing, equipment and other materials, and property modification and transport, as well as advice and specialist support. Parents/Caregivers are included in decisions regarding the best approach to support the student's learning needs.

Support is coordinated at the school. We use our student management system to record any learning support needs so that all staff can access this information and be aware of any support required.

Funding and resourcing learning support

Some students with significant educational needs are regarded as having ongoing learning support needs, and their extra support is funded through the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS).

The Learning Support Action Plan prioritises a wide range of support for children and young people with moderate learning support needs, who are not eligible for ORS funding.

Support may include extra teacher or teacher aide time, literacy support, or other resources and learning programmes.

See Students with learning support needs (Ministry of Education) for comprehensive information about available supports.

Providing learning support

Teachers plan programmes and strategies to cater for the individual needs of the students in their class. Teachers and support staff who are responsible for students needing learning support receive relevant professional development as appropriate.

When a student's needs are identified as ongoing, or the school deems it appropriate for a student, an individual education plan (IEP) is developed. This process involves parents, teachers, and other support agencies as appropriate.


At St Matthew's Primary School Hastings, principal's reports and staff presentations detail information about learning support in the school. Updates are provided in board and staff meetings to ensure we are consistent and reflective in our practices.

Learning Support Coordination

The Ministry of Education is introducing a standardised learning support register (sLSR) on the Te Rito platform. There is information on Learning support register to help schools get ready, including how to align existing learning support registers with the sLSR.

At our school, the SENCO is responsible for all students with learning support needs, including gifted students, and for all aspects of the delivery of this support.

The key tasks and responsibilities of learning support coordination may be shared across several roles at the school. These tasks may include:

  • liaising with the student's previous teachers/education providers and managing the transitions both into and out of school
  • coordinating applications for support from outside the school and monitoring programme delivery
  • liaising with teachers, learning support staff, parents, and professionals as required. These may include consultants, speech language therapists (SLTs), occupational therapists (OTs), physical therapists (PTs), resource teachers of learning and behaviour (RTLBs), resource teachers of literacy (RTLits), mental health services, Ministry of Education specialists, and psychologists
  • responding to concerns raised by parents
  • timetabling programmes, meetings, and visits from outside agencies
  • managing IEPs
  • maintaining records on individual children and overseeing the school referral process
  • monitoring schoolwide learning support needs and trends
  • managing the learning support budget (including coordinating applications for funding for ESOL twice each year in terms 1 and 3)
  • developing, monitoring, and guiding staff development in issues relating to special needs
    • regularly consulting with learning support staff about attitudes, opinions, and general work issues
    • ensuring the appraisal of learning support staff is completed by the end of the year.

Our school has a learning support register that allows us to record learning support needs in one place and helps track learners' progress over time.

Identify Learning Support

A need for learning support may be recognised at home, or identified at school through:

  • teacher observation
  • various assessment tools, procedures, and observations, running records – these apply to the whole school and are useful in identifying reading problems and assessing progress
  • consultation – with previous teachers, principal, parents, advisors, therapists, support services, etc.
  • professional diagnosis from outside agencies, aided and assisted with guidance and support from the school.

Teachers can refer students and groups of students for assessment and possible extra assistance to the principal and SENCO who then refers to the appropriate service, agency, professional, or programme.

Parents with concerns about their child's progress should raise these first with the teacher, then the SENCO, or the principal. Parents are also welcome to request referrals.

When a student's needs are identified as ongoing, or the school deems it appropriate for a student, an individual education plan (IEP) is developed. This process involves parents, teachers, and other support agencies as appropriate.

Gifted Learners

Teachers plan programmes to meet the needs of the students in their class. Sometimes students emerge with abilities far beyond the normal range of a class. The range of special abilities that relate to the concept of giftedness includes general academic, creative, and physical abilities; leadership ability; and abilities in the visual and performing arts.

Giftedness is diverse and gifted learners have a range of needs. Meeting the learning needs of gifted children and young people is one of the priorities in the Ministry of Education's Learning Support Action Plan 2019–2025. St Matthew's Primary School Hastings works within the government's Learning Support Delivery Model to ensure that gifted learners at our school are identified and supported to meet their potential.

Identifying gifted learners

Gifted students are identified in a number of ways, which may include:

  • consultation with parents, previous teachers, principals, advisors, therapists, etc.
  • cumulative records
  • teacher completed checklists
  • norm-referenced assessments
  • psychological assessments.

Providing learning support for gifted learners

Once identified, gifted students are extended through careful and differentiated programming, taking into account relevant cultural perspectives. This may include an individual education plan (Individual Education Plan), which is ongoing and monitored, as well as other supports.

Gifted underachievers, and students identified as twice exceptional (also known as 2E – for example, with both a very high IQ and a specific learning disability), are supported with the same strategies, and may warrant an IEP which focuses on their wider range of needs.

Students are only promoted to an older year group following careful consideration and with the clear support of the IEP objectives.

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