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Learning Services

Key Staff

Teacher Aides

About Us

The Learning Services Department consists of a small and highly passionate team that is committed to inclusive education. We aim to develop strong student agency so students can confidently learn and succeed both within the school environment and beyond. Positive respectful working relationships are at the core of student success. Learning Services is a place where students and teachers can come to openly discuss learning and to develop techniques to enable success.

What Do We Do?

Students may have individual educational, health & safety and/or behavioural plans.These are shared with relevant teachers and can be accessed upon request through the Learning Services Department.

The Learning Services Administrator oversees all SAC applications, bookings and internal SAC conditions. The HOD makes all NZQA applications for SAC. 

The Learning Services HOD is the Te Kura liaison for the school, so if there are any questions/concerns regarding Te Kura, please direct students to the HOD.

Students can be referred to Learning Services for a number of reasons and in many ways. Teaching staff can use the referral form found on the 4Staff page. Deans and counsellors may also refer through this method. Referral may come through enrolment when students/whānau outline a particular struggle of diagnosis. Core teachers meet once a term to discuss students, referral may also come through these.

Once a student has been referred, a discussion is had and some data collected. If it is determined that further information/data needs to be gathered to better understand a student’s learning needs, some internal testing may be conducted. We are unable to make any diagnosis around learning differences but can test to help identify areas of strength/concern.

Special Assessment Conditions (SAC)

Special Assessment Conditions (SAC) can provide help for otherwise capable students in addressing various barriers to achievement in assessments for NCEA or New Zealand Scholarship.
SAC helps students fairly demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding when being assessed without providing an unfair advantage over other students.
When it comes to SAC provision for internals, the phrase “as appropriate” applies. This is a professional judgement to be made by the school in consultation with the student. A timed in-class test is clear. It is a difficult judgement call to make with respect to portfolio work or work completed over a period of time. The basic question to ask in this case is whether the removal of an extra time provision is viewed as a disadvantage to the student. We suggest a fairly liberal interpretation.

To add the Special Assessment Calendar to your calendar click THIS LINK

The usual maximum length is 10 minutes for any hour-long assessment or 30 minutes for a three-hour examination.
Extra Writing Time is available for three-hour exam sessions (only when entries are made for three standards or NZ Scholarship in that session).

A Reader includes a person to read the assessment instructions and any work the student produces. This application is designed to overcome the barriers associated with reading which often exhibit in students with dyslexia. Application for a Reader automatically includes isolated separate accommodation as the Reader will be talking.

A Writer is designed to overcome any barriers a student has with writing – for example a broken arm or writing fluency. A Writer may choose to type. Application for a Writer (Typist) automatically includes isolated separate accommodation as the student will be talking.
Application for a Writer automatically includes the option of Computer use. Students using computers may share their separate accommodation and printers.

For use of a Computer only in exams. This accommodation can help students with poor handwriting or spelling as they can use the spell check functions on the computer.
Students share accommodation and printers.

This is provided whenever a Reader or Writer is used, and for a candidate who has a specific reason not to be with other candidates. This may be Isolated or Small Group Separate Accommodation dependent on need.

Learning differences information and teaching strategies

Dyslexia is defined as a range of persistent difficulties with aspects of reading, writing and spelling. It affects between 10-20% of the populations and is largely undiagnosed. Dyslexia students may appear unorganised, lazy, disengaged or struggling with their learning. Dyslexia is often accompanied by strengths in visual thinking and creativity.

Key characteristics
Affects people to varying degrees & may affect areas such as:

  • Spelling, reading fluency, sounding out of words, pronouncing out loud, text comprehension, identifying/generating rhyme-syllables (phonological awareness – sound structure of words)
  • Segmenting/blending of individual sounds (phonemic awareness)
  • Word retrieval or naming things

Tips for teaching

  • Use lots of visual aides
  • Get straight to the point
  • Don’t go too fast – good if we can have a copy of slides as we go through them
  • Use light blue or yellow backgrounds
  • Borders are helpful
  • Use contrasting colours to the background
  • Dyslexic friendly font
  • Use Assistive technology
  • Be aware of memory load
  • Teach organisational skills
  • Minimise visual stress
  • Allow thinking time

Other useful information:
Check out to see if your classroom is Dyslexia aware here (add PDF from Dyslexic Foundation of NZ)
Dyslexia, so what’s it all about? Check out this YouTube clip to help you understand more.
Chromebook Apps and Extensions for learners with Dyslexia (insert PDF)
Ipad Apps for Learners with Dyslexia (Insert PDF)

People with dyscalculia have a huge struggle acquiring arithmetical skills in spite of a good learning environment at home and at school. It is estimated that around 6% of the population is affected by dyscalculia.

Key characteristics

  • First signs take the form of delay in learning to count and recall facts
  • May have symptoms such as difficulty with: counting backwards, estimating, basic fact recall, comparatives, sequencing, putting concepts into practice, left vs right. There also may be anxiety in maths and inconsistency with results.

Tips for teachers

  • Use of multisensory instructions – sight, touch, hearing and movement to aid comprehension.
  • Concrete materials to support link between numbers and what they represent
  • Repetition and practice of interventions focusing on improvement of numerical skills
    relating abstract mathematical info to the physical world

Other useful information:
iPad Apps for learning with dyscalculia numeracy difficulties (insert PDF)

Difficulties with skilled motor movements which interfere with daily activities.
Affects planning of movements and coordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body.

Key Characteristics

  • Poor writing and drawing skills
  • Problems with fine and or gross motor skills, shows in dislike of physical education, games and ball activities
  • Messy eaters may want to eat alone
  • Difficulty dressing, another reason for trying to get out of physical education
  • Falls and bumps into things a lot
  • Distractible
  • Disruptive in class
  • Difficulty copying text from a book or board
  • Difficulty planning and organising thoughts
  • Language and communication difficulties
  • Problems following instructions
  • Social skills problems
  • Problems with emotional maturity

Tips for Teachers

  • Simplify instructions
  • Firm guideline
  • Routine is important
  • Prepare student in advance for changes e.g. 5 minutes until the end of class
  • Sit at the front of the class where there are fewer distractions
  • Give extra time to complete work
  • Patience to make sure student understands expectations
  • Repeat information – self-esteem is always at risk when the student tries to draw on their memory
  • Present instructions visually as well as verbally… along with key information and phrases
  • Paper for reading and/or writing is best placed in the direction the student usually looks when thinking
  • Good posture for blood flow and opportunities for stretching
  • Teach bullet point taking for notes
  • Provision for wider lines/wider maths squares
  • Pencil grips and triangular pencils
  • Voice to text software
  • Visual checklists, task steps and memory aids
  • Extra time for transitions
  • Positive feedback
  • Sensitive implementation of changes to routine – prepare in advance

Difficulties writing coherently

Key characteristics

  • Cramped grip, which may lead to a sore hand
  • Difficulty spacing things out on paper or within margins (poor spatial planning)
  • Frequent erasing
  • Inconsistency in letter and word spacing
  • Poor spelling, including unfinished words or missing words or letters

Tips for teachers

  • Encourage computer use
  • Reduce copying from the board
  • Allow the use of speech to text
  • Allow extra time
  • Provide examples of finished pieces of work
  • Encourage the use of Grammarly
  • Allow a proofreader

A range of neurodevelopmental disorders including Autism and Asperger Syndrome.
ASD tends to occur simultaneously with other disorders.

Key Characteristics

  • Difficulty in communicating
  • Do not understand body language and social cues
  • Difficulty with imaginative tasks
  • Obsessive special interests
  • Sensory issues – can be over or under sensitive
  • Find change and sudden disruption difficult to deal with
  • Extreme difficulty making friends, but need friends for socialisation
  • May have comorbidities such as dyslexia and dyspraxia or ADHD etc

Tips for Teachers

  • Pre-warn of any change of routine
  • Do not use idioms as they can take them literally
  • Use a checklist to help with structure and routine
  • Use short precise instructions
  • Use their special interest to help motivate and reward
  • They usually like facts, figures and patterns
  • Ask them to help, anything that will give them kudos with their classmates
  • Have a class buddy- this is really important. Their problems with socialisation and difficulty making friends can lead to depression in the teenage years
  • Encourage participation in other school activities such as sport and music – this will help them in understanding social skills
  • Allow time for being alone, the stress of social interaction can make this necessary

Neurodevelopmental disorder – difficulty paying attention, excessive activity, age inappropriate behaviour, especially around consequences.

Key characteristics

  • Disorganised and often late
  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lack of impulse control

Tips of teachers
Structure, boundaries and encouragement

  • Enjoyable exercise
  • tables/list to ref back to
  • Repetition & clear direction/explicit expectation
  • Emotional reg re learning process
  • Eye contact
  • Clear boundaries to reduce lengthy discussion
  • Clear predictably routines with changes/transitions pre-warned
  • Prep with self-organisation/equipment for task prior

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is a hearing disorder in which the ears process sound “normally” but the hearing centres and circuits of the brain do not correctly process incoming information. This can affect understanding, especially in challenging listening situations such as in the presence of other distracting sound, or when listening to complex information or instructions.”

Key Characteristics

  • Poor listening skills, especially with multi step instructions
  • Slowness in processing spoken information
  • Poor auditory memory (difficulty attending to and remembering spoken information)
  • Other possible signs include insensitivity to tone of voice or other nuances of speech, sensitivity to excessive auditory stimulation (eg noisy classroom)
  • Problems with comprehension, language, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, reading or written language

Tips for Teachers

  • Students with APD usually have deficiencies in their phonological awareness, which in turn leads to poor performance with comprehension, language, spelling, vocabulary, reading and written language
  • Their poor hearing may also affect achievement in other areas of the curriculum
  • Keep instructions brief and to the point
  • Minimise background noise in the classroom
  • Use any listening devices that a student may have.
  • People with APD miss parts of speech if it is too fast or too complex or if there is other competing sound present. Hearing difficulty against other background sound
  • Repetition or rephrasing of key info
  • Present info slowly and clearly
  • Signal to prompt child for key info
  • AT listening device
  • Visual supports
  • Use of gestures/images to engage
  • Peer support
  • Opportunity to display strengths
  • Provision of learning material before new topic intro


Where the brain takes longer to take in information and respond to it. Slow processing speed can co-occur with other learning and attention issues, like ADHD and dyslexia. Kids with slow processing speed are also at risk for anxiety and issues with self-esteem. It’s important to let them know there are strategies to help with any challenges they have.

Key characteristics

  • Needing extra time to take in, respond and make sense of information

Teaching strategies:

  • Avoid busy work, focus on what you actually want achieved
  • Pressuring kids to hurry can make them take longer
  • Build an awareness of time
  • Reduce distractions, overloading of pages
  • Make clear what the student should do first
  • Allow thinking time
  • Provide extra time





Working memory is the ability to call upon already learned information. It is our ability to hold in mind and mentally manipulate information over short periods of time.

Key characteristics:

  • Feeling overloaded
  • Often distracted

Teaching strategies:

  • Provide appropriate instructions which help to reduce cognitive demands placed upon a student.
  • Help to reduce task demand by breaking tasks down into more simplified steps
  • Minimise distractions which are unrelated to the learning event
  • Reduce pressure during cognitively demanding tasks- such as giving the student more time to process information.
  • Encourage the use of memory enhancing strategies which help to encode information into long-term memory (e.g. chunking or Mnemonics)