Rationale for this evaluation

In 2004 ERO investigated the quality of RTLB service delivery in 40 (20 percent) of the then 199 clusters. The report highlighted a need for more consistency in delivery of the RTLB service across New Zealand. ERO made recommendations for improvement to the service’s management and accountability including:

  • improving oversight of the quality and consistency of the service
  • providing improved supervision and support for RTLB practitioners
  • increasing the effectiveness of services for Māori students.

In response to ERO’s 2004 report, the Ministry formed an RTLB Project Team to develop the Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) Policy and Toolkit (2007). This document provided schools with improved guidelines for the management and accountability of the RTLB service.

In 2009 ERO reviewed the RTLB service again. This review focused on the governance and management of a sample of 40 RTLB clusters (20 percent). ERO found little had changed from 2004, largely because the governance and management structures had not changed, despite the publication of the toolkit in 2007.

ERO made the following recommendations:

ERO recommends that in the short term the Ministry of Education and RTLB clusters use the findings of this evaluation to address identified issues to improve the governance and management of clusters.

ERO recommends that in the medium term the Ministry of Education initiates a review of the current RTLB cluster model to determine the best approach to governing and managing the RTLB service in the context of the wider special education provision.

The Ministry responded to ERO’s 2009 evaluation by undertaking a substantive transformation of the RTLB service. This transformation saw the number of RTLB clusters reduced to 40, with each cluster attached to a lead school/kura whose board of trustees was responsible for overall governance of the service. Cluster managers (one for each cluster) have responsibility for day-to-day management, working closely with the lead school principal.

In discussion with the Ministry, a decision was made to undertake another evaluation in 2017 to evaluate the impact of the transformation on the service. This evaluation took place at a time when there was considerable change happening in the Ministry in relation to Learning Support including re-structuring Learning Support staff into 10 regions and creating regional Learning Support Manager roles.