Specialist Support Available For Schools To Help A Student With Cancer

Specialist Support Available For Schools To Help A Student With Cancer

A list of some of the options that may be available to help you plan for and teach your student who has cancer.


What extra support is available to help my student with cancer?

With good information and planning, your school should be able to meet many of your student's needs without additional support. If however, your student with cancer has high health or additional learning needs there are support options available.

Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour Service

Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour Service (RTLB) are specialist teams who work across a number of schools. RTLB are specialist teachers who work with teachers and families to identify learning strengths and needs.

They support teachers with teaching and learning strategies that enable students to participate fully in the classroom programme. RTLB support teachers and schools to plan for the unique strengths and needs of learners.

Visit the Ministry of Education website for more information about the Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour service.

Learning Support

The Ministry of Education's Learning Support Service has a range of specialists who can work alongside families/whānau and educators in the early childhood and school sector.

Depending on your student's needs, the team might include a:

  • speech-language therapist
  • early intervention teacher
  • psychologist
  • advisor on deaf children
  • kaitakawaenga (Māori cultural advisor)

Examples of children who need support from these specialists might be children who:

  • are slower to develop skills such as talking, walking or playing
  • have hearing or vision difficulties
  • struggle with communicating or getting along with others
  • have an emotional or behavioural difficulty

Support may include:

  • a behaviour plan or programme to support your student
  • specialist support - working with the adults closest to your student to develop your student's skills and support their learning
  • special equipment to support your student's learning

Read more about Learning Support

School High Health Needs Fund

The School High Health Needs Fund supports students who have high health needs as the result of a significant health condition and who need care for more than 6 weeks. A very small number of students may need ongoing support throughout their schooling.

The fund can pay for a support person who: 

  • supports the management of your student's health needs
  • supports the student to learn to manage their own health needs either independently or to the best of their ability

You can also visit the Ministry of Education website for:

Physical Disability Service

If your student has a physical disability as a result of the cancer treatment, the Physical Disability Service can help to support them to learn at school. The service works with teachers and schools to help them adapt to the environment around the student to meet students' needs.

To get support, a student is likely to have a problem with:

  • moving safely around the classroom and the school
  • using playground equipment
  • taking part in learning activities, particularly physical ones
  • using technology, such as computers
  • using pencils, pens and other tools and materials, especially if their disability causes problems with their handwriting
  • managing basic tasks, such as changing their clothes when they go swimming, dealing with their clothes when they go to the toilet  or eating their lunch

A therapist will assess your student's needs. They will talk with everyone involved, including your student, their family and the teachers, and will put together a plan to help meet those needs.

You cannot get support from both the Physical Disability Service and the Ongoing Resource Scheme.

You can visit the Ministry of Education website for more information on the Physical Disability Service.

ACC assistance

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is responsible for any injury-related needs your student may have that could impact on their learning, attending or participating at school. Under some circumstances, ACC may accept that an unintended effect of treatment will be regarded as 'a treatment-related injury'. This can happen if a consequence of treatment is unexpected or unusually severe. In these circumstances, ACC will directly fund additional resources for education.

Some examples of assistance include:

  • assistive technology and equipment your student may need - such as writing aids, a note taker, a computer or laptop, and FM sound systems
  • education support workers and teacher aides
  • equipment to assist with an everyday need - such as a standing frame or a hoist

Eligibility for ACC support at school is determined by either:

  • a Support Needs Assessment, or
  • an Education-Based Rehabilitation Assessment

Visit the ACC website to find out more about ACC assistance.

Ongoing Resourcing Scheme

The Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) provides support for students with the highest level of needs for learning support to join in and learn alongside other students at your school.

For most children with learning support needs, the Government funds schools to provide extra support. If your student is among the very small number of students with the highest needs, Ministry of Education Learning Support can help directly at school, through ORS or other specialist services.

ORS can provide:

  • extra support from a specialist teacher
  • support from specialists
  • support from a teacher's aide
  • funding for small items your student might need

You can also visit the Ministry of Education website for information on ORS criteria and funding.

See more information for teachers about education when a child has cancer

See the section for parents


The pages in the childhood cancer and education section of this website have been developed in collaboration with the National Child Cancer Network (NZ), and the Ministry of Education. Content has been approved by the National Child Cancer Network (NZ).

This page last reviewed 20 August 2018.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it