The RTLB service aims to improve learning and teaching for students with moderate learning or behaviour difficulties in schools. The role of an RTLB is to help facilitate the presence, participation and learning of those students who experience these difficulties. RTLB are a group of trained itinerant specialist teachers, working across clusters of schools, who provide support to ensure good educational outcomes for Years 1-10 students. There are nearly 1000 RTLB in New Zealand today, working in 40 clusters throughout the country. RTLB services are managed by full-time cluster managers, situated in 40 lead schools/kura.
In September 2010, the Minister of Education instructed the Ministry to review and transform the RTLB service. The purpose of the transformation was simple - to ensure a better deal for students with learning and behaviour difficulties.
There were two aspirational beliefs at the core of the transformation: (i) that, with the right leadership, the national RTLB service can be effective in helping students with learning and behaviour needs participate in schooling to their fullest potential; and (ii) that, with the right structures, people and funds can be managed to the highest standards possible.
Through the transformation process the Ministry was keen to achieve:
As a result of recommendations made to the Ministry by two working groups set up to plan the transformation (a principals’ working group and a practitioners’ working group), at the end of 2011 the Ministry of Education restructured the RTLB service and reduced the number of clusters from 200 to 40.
From the start of 2012, each cluster has been attached to a lead school, and the board of trustees of that school has had responsibility for governance and oversight. Cluster managers have had overall responsibility for the day-to-day management and coordination of the service. Practice leaders are trained RTLB with additional responsibilities, particularly for personnel management.
Massey University and University of Canterbury were jointly contracted to provide specialist RTLB training, which became a stipulated requirement for all RTLBs to complete (if they did not hold an equivalent qualification).
The RTLB service now works within national guidelines – Governing and Managing RTLB Clusters and the Professional Practice Toolkit, developed by the service itself over 2014 and 2015. These guidelines stipulate principles, the scope of activities, and outline a practice sequence for RTLB work on either individual or group cases.
Principles. The eight key principles for guiding all RTLB work are: