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ESOL funding and Ministry of Education support

Learner-initiated supplementary supports

Design elements

Target for support (strengths and needs)

ESOL funding is available to schools for the provision of English language support for migrant, New Zealand born students of migrant parent(s) and former refugee students with the highest English language learning needs.

The ESOL Resourcing Policy targets English language learners (ELLs) in order to equip schools and teachers to effectively meet their English language learning needs.

Expected outcomes

Schools apply on behalf of individual eligible students for ESOL funding to provide English language support programmes.

It is expected that they:

  • accurately identify their ELLs and apply for funding accordingly
  • use the funding in the most effective ways to help ELLs make accelerated progress in order to access the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC)
  • design and adjust policies, procedures, and programmes to reflect the needs of their ELLs
  • ensure that staffing capabilities reflect the identified needs of the learners
  • value and support the different languages, cultures, and identities of ELLs.

Effective ESOL provision builds confidence, celebrates cultural diversity, uses the student’s first language, and engages families as well as providing specific and well-targeted English language support. 

What data is used to support access decision?

On completing an assessment of the student’s English language skills the schools confirm their eligibility and make an application through the twice-yearly funding allocation process.

 Funding eligibility:

  • Students with the highest language learning needs are entitled to funding. Specific ESOL assessment criteria are used to identify these students.
  • Eligible students from a migrant or refugee background generate funding for a maximum of five years (20 terms).
  • Eligible New Zealand born students of migrant or refugee parent(s) generate funding for a maximum of three years (12 terms).

Student details are entered into the Ministry’s ESOL database and student progress can be tracked through the funding programme.

Delivery design (who, how long, interactions)

Schools use the funding to implement English language support programmes (with additional staffing and resource material) that are designed to meet their particular student needs.

Effective language acquisition support includes:

  • specialist ESOL programmes (ESOL option lines, group and individual withdrawals, in-class support, etc)
  • qualified teachers, teacher aides, and language assistants  
  • bilingual support
  • ESOL professional development
  • appropriate learning materials and resources
  • an inclusive environment that values first language and culture
  • engaging families in student learning.

How will the support contribute to classroom practice (tier 1) and school capability?

Providing effective programmes and support involves schools and teachers identifying the specific needs of ELLs and adjusting the support to suit their learning trajectories.

This means that schools need to:

  • use a range of assessments for ELLs, both standardised and specialised
  • use the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) to identify their specific language learning needs and confirm eligibility for ESOL funding
  • undertake an accelerated teaching programme
  • embrace culturally responsive teaching.

Teachers with expertise in ESOL and literacy leaders need to ensure that effective pedagogy for ELLs is incorporated in the school’s professional development programme for all teachers.

Teacher aides/language assistants and bilingual tutors who work with ELLs, under the guidance and supervision of co-ordinating teachers, should also have access to explicit language focused training.

Principals, senior leaders, and mainstream teachers are encouraged to apply for the TESSOL Tuition Fees Scholarship. 

“Distinctive skills from the TESSOL programme have made significant impact on the scope and depth of the programmes these teachers design and the way in which language learning is personalised for ELLS.”

(Principal R. Limbrick, Arahoe School, 2012)

How will the support contribute to building educationally powerful relationships with parents, whānau/family, hapu, iwi, and community?

The settlement of the migrant and refugee English language learner communities and their successful inclusion in mainstream education depends on the development of effective links between the school and the ELLs’ communities.

The Ministry offers support that is focused on building successful links and home-school partnerships with migrant communities. This includes:

  • support for students, parents, and schools from the Ministry’s regional Migrant and Refugee Education Coordinators 
  • migrant parent information booklets and pamphlets in community languages (available online)
  • web based multilingual notices and forms
  • home-school partnership modules available online
  • English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) modules online, including exemplars of reports to parents
  • the Bilingual Assessment Service.

Fidelity elements (small groups, one on one, timing)

Schools determine the particular structure and frequency of support, based on ELLs’ specific learning needs.

Support can be provided in a number of ways:

  • on a one-to-one basis
  • timetabled classes
  • small groups
  • in-class support.

How is support monitored and measured in terms of outcomes?

School based monitoring

Schools track and monitor ELLs’ progress using a variety of standardised and specialised assessment tools.

Twice yearly ESOL assessment scores are recorded on the ELLP Record of Progress forms. These forms then become a cumulative record of student progress.

The scores are sent to the Migrant, Refugee and International ESOL team for funding application purposes in March and August.

Ministry monitoring

a) The scores are recorded on the ESOL database along with other information about the students (country of birth, first language etc).

b) The ESOL verification process:

ESOL verifiers from the Migrant, Refugee and International ESOL team contact individual schools approximately every three years through visits or telephone verifications to discuss:

  • procedures to identify eligible students and ascertain their English language learning needs
  • the support programmes provided
  • the assessment records to support applications for funding.

c) Monitoring of related ESOL resource and professional development initiatives provides further information through:

  • ESOL PLD milestones reports and meetings with PLD providers
  • paraprofessional initiative milestones reports
  • TESSOL Scholarships semestral reviews (by participating teachers and their principals)
  • ESOL Professional Learning Communities (60 nationally) meeting minutes
  • commissioned research and reports.

What needs to be sustained?

The provision of support programmes and effective pedagogy for ELLs to ensure accelerated and sustained progress towards cohort achievement.

Roles and responsibilities for the support

What are the conditions for successful delivery?


Migrant, Refugee and International ESOL Team


Effective provision for accelerating the language learning of ELLs in order to meet the demands of the NZC.


The ESOL verification process involves discussing policy/procedural documentation and ESOL programme provision, checking the ESOL Status List, and looking at ESOL assessment records along with support data and student work samples.

Verifiers also ensure that schools are aware of ESOL resources and professional development opportunities.

Immediate responses to schools’ questions around funding and support are part of the daily work of the MRIE team.

Updated on: 17 Dec 2020

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Identifying learning needs. Resource selector. Impact of changed practices. Designing learning for school context. Integrated system of support for students. Achievement information triggers response.

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