How the Ministry of Education in New Zealand Assess an ORS application Part 2


Ok, this is a continuation of the last episode… 

Here is a super quick summary…

In the last episode, we talked about our journey of applying for ORS funding. ORS is an Ongoing Resourcing Scheme being handled by the Ministry of Education. If you want to learn more about it, I published some details in my last episode, please check it out. I also linked below about ORS and Criterion 8.

So my son is transitioning from Kindy to primary and while there was a plan for that transition to happen, there were hiccups along the way I suppose given our current status! The original plan for my son to go to primary right after he turns 5 did not happen. We extended his stay with his Kindy for about a month while we continuously do the transition visits but COVID happened. Term 1 has ended so there is no way this can be done, right? Realistically speaking. Here we go, just be with me here, now during the school holiday, we got the ORS application result! Yay! Here it is…

So here it is… ready?

Ok, The result is a Decline!

I have to say, this is really out of my plan. I am supposed to be publishing content about my take on the autism parenting summit, not this! You destroyed my plan!!! Now I have to pull out my supposed to be episodes 12 and 13 for this, look what you’ve done!

On the good side, this will be a good opportunity for us to try and understand some guidelines and concepts brought about by entities who are going to help us in this journey. 

Let’s dissect the application we have for the ORS funding and see how closely if not, it is tied to the criterion and in my case, this is criterion 8. 

I know I shouldn’t be sharing personal results but again this is a personal choice, and for educational purposes, plus if no one will share any learning experience, who will?

Here is what is going to happen.

I will read criterion 8 from the Ministry of Education NZ site, then I will dissect the outcome piece by piece and relate that to the said criterion… so how does that sound?

Why criterion 8? When you apply for an ORS, there is a set of criteria that your application will be reviewed against. Criterion 8, is the one where we failed as per their review, where we failed to show that we need further support. 

So what is criterion 8…

Let me read it from the MOE site. I will also put a link into the description where to find this criterion 8. What will happen is I will read criterion 8 and then compare this with what is written in the outcome. I will try to ambitiously discuss it line by line.

Criterion 8:

This criterion is for students whose communication and social behaviours are very unusual and inappropriate in their social context. They have a combination of severe difficulties with social interaction, communication, and imagination and carry out rigid and repetitive behaviours. The particular combination and intensity of these characteristics vary but are apparent most of the time. These students:

  1. are difficult to engage in almost all learning and social activities. They show frequent avoidance behaviour and require prompting to participate. As a consequence, their learning achievements are significantly delayed
  2. usually distance themselves from social situations and seem to be largely unaware of people around them, although they may respond positively to their whānau/ parents and other very familiar people
  3. often have trouble understanding and using non-verbal communication. They may take a person to something they want but don’t indicate this by pointing or gesturing. These students also have severe difficulties processing verbal information. Some recognize symbols and words but don’t demonstrate how to use this knowledge. Some use learned phrases and ritualized words that appear irrelevant to the current topic and may have little meaning for others
  4. are severely distressed by change, needing to be reassured even when prepared in advance for new environments or changes in routines. Feelings of confusion or frustration may result in sudden changes in emotions.

Most students who meet this criterion have a diagnosis of autism but some have another, or no, medical diagnosis. A very small number of older students with severe mental health conditions also meet this criterion.

These students need regular specialist interventions from a speech-language therapist and a psychologist to help them develop an awareness of others and some meaningful communication.

This criterion is not for students who, despite major difficulties with communication and/or social behaviour, can be engaged to participate in meaningful learning in the curriculum.

Ok so I will read the outcome sent to us and dissect this based on criterion 8 and we’ll discuss them individually. So here it is.

 Thank you for your recent application… blah blah blah. I am going to skip the formality thing and let’s go straight to the outcome… let’s skip this. Let’s play this again so we know I didn’t do it…SO let’s skip that intro, pretty much-explaining criterion 8, so and so… acknowledging his challengers, blah blah you get what I mean.

However… Does that word appear to be familiar to you? However…

However, the verifiers note that your son has characteristics that are not consistent with students whose language and social communication needs meet Criterion 8. 

Your son has an awareness and understanding of language. With support, he can follow the steps that make up the centre arrival routine. 

  • That’s the cue, with support, he can follow the steps that make the centre arrival and routine. That’s the keyword, with support right? Plus we are only talking about the arrival routine, how about when mum leaves? This is how long between 9 am – 3 pm, who will support him and give him a cue? Take note in a class, let’s say for argument sake there are 10 students plus my son, there is no chance that the class teacher will 100% guide and prompt my son for the entire day… How about the other students? Are you still with me?
  • He may give eye contact with a person who greets him and will greet others verbally when prompted. 
  • We have indicated in the form that he is non-verbal… The teachers know that his MOE coordinators know that, the Ministry of Health knows that as well… Think about this, how is he going to greet others back when he is non-verbal, he can say words, yes at times but they have no sense or meaning to the other person at all… like seriously?

Move on to the next…

Now here is the best part… it seems they have acknowledged he is nonverbal…

Although his verbal communication is limited, your son uses non-verbal communication methods to get his needs met. Now they have acknowledged he is non-verbal. So there is no way he will greet back.

Moving on…

He will take an adult to something that he wants, such as food, and request it by pointing, respond to ‘show me’ by leading an adult to the desired object, and will give an item to an adult, such as handing the remote to a parent to request a change of TV program. 

  • Super interesting, the first half says about pointing, there is nowhere in the form that we submitted about pointing, not that I am nor my wife is aware of. So who’s assessment is this? Is this a mixed-up assessment? Or just a result of a copy-paste mistake.
  • Another interesting thing here is around the remote control, it’s a remote control for TV, everytime he is handing over the remote control, we do not know what he wants us to do with it, it was a ton of trial and error and crying over here and there and frustrations on his part before we figured out that he wants to change the channel. Plus it’s a remote control right, think about this, you are watching tv, someone handed over the remote, you know that it could mean changing a channel, adjusting the volume, turning off or on the tv… What else do you do with a remote control? I don’t know about you but that’s how we use it.
  • Another thing, he is leading us to the pantry if he wants food, he is handling us the remote… we are talking about the home setting where he is comfortable, he knows where the pantry is, he knows about the tv, this is his comfort zone and is different from school where it is busy, it’s big, many kids, there is no pantry, there is no remote control. 

My son responds to verbal prompts for participation in routines such as accessing his drink bottle, participating in some dressing tasks, or climbing the ladder to the changing table. Although your son prefers to play alone, his engagement with learning activities can be extended with adult support to settle him at activities and to aid his concentration, such as in the block corner using verbal and visual prompts.

  • Here it is again, it says, with adult support his engagement in learning can be extended to settle him in activities and aid in his concentration using verbal and visual prompts. Here is my question: who is going to prompt him in class? Again the class teacher can only do so much here.  

 In addition, he tolerates familiar people playing alongside him, observes his siblings play from a distance, and once they have moved on from activity of interest, he will then attempt it and, if invited, he can be drawn into jumping or dancing with his siblings. These examples indicate that your son’s needs are not at the level of severity required to meet Criterion 8. 

  • Again we are talking about the house getting here, and he is playing with his siblings. His siblings are aware of his autism, and the setting again is a home setting, not a school setting, why is he being assessed at home? His kindy has communicated his needs as well. Why is this being neglected then? 

 Your son will require a carefully planned transition and additional support in the school setting. However, from the information provided he does not appear to have the absence of communicative intent, and the pervasive resistance to be engaged in learning that is typical of children who meet Criterion 8.

  • He does not appear to have the absence of communicative intent… What does this mean? This is subjective. Every Living thing has an intent to communicate. The universe has the intent to communicate, the earth has the intent to communicate, that’s why we have global warming. The earth is communicating to us that we are doing something wrong, the plants have the intent to communicate, babies have the intent to communicate. All living things have the intent to communicate, but what is it? We as parents can probably, take note, probably guess what he is trying to communicate but the teachers won’t. That’s why we need this additional support to guide him at school.
  • In addition, there is no indication that your son is severely distressed by the change which is a strong feature of the behaviour of children whose needs meet this criterion. 
  • Again his kindy has records of his distress for every routine change he undergoes. During recent lockdowns, it became apparent that we needed to do a settling visit again to his kindy so he will not get overwhelmed with the change. Every time there is a routine change, he is unsettled not just at school but also at home. There are times he wakes up in the middle of the night or times he is sleeping late because of that change.
  • Because of this, we have requested a longer transition visit in his soon-to-be primary school… because we know this is a big change. 

Also, he is a runner, his MOE coordinator knows about this, and he has no sense of danger. There was a time during one of the transition visits that after arriving at the class, he just ran away towards the gate and he was trying to get out of the school compound all by himself. Again, the class teacher will not leave the class that quick to catch him from running away. No one knows what could happen if he got out of that gate… 


My concerns, the verifiers only based their decision on what was written on paper, and no one ever came to see my child confirm this. In my view, personally, if you are going to assess someone especially if it is health-related you will interview the parents if the person can’t speak for him or herself. Yes, there are forms to be filled out, but you will still need to see the person. It’s like going to a doctor and asking a person to fill out a form and the doctor will give the prescription based on what you have written on the paper… Crazy right?

 I still feel there is a misrepresentation there.

My second concern is the word pointing, because the child is pointing, it sounds to me that it is an automatic decline. So what’s with the act of pointing? hear me out, we never said he is pointing in our application, why did that come out in the result? Let’s say he is pointing but he is not, what’s in that gesture that the verifier/reviewer can automatically conclude that a child does not require further support at school because he is pointing. The child’s pointing can not tell you the whole picture… it could just be a child mimicking an act… but doesn’t mean a thing.  

Another concern that I have is the criterion, is it up to date with the current setting for New Zealand? When was the last time this was reviewed and revised so it is aligned to NZ’s latest school settings? Interesting… 

The next concern is, that he is being assessed for the majority of it in a home setting where he is comfortable with his environment, he got access to remote control, he knows about tv, and tablets, and he is playing with his siblings… yeah that’s his comfort zone… of course, he will confidently do as he pleased… home setting is different from school setting that is why we are seeking for support school is different. Again I am re-stating he has no sense of danger, who will be liable for his safety? 

Multiple times I have heard from other parents that getting approved for ORS is difficult… if you did get approved, you belong to 1% of applicants… Why is that? I heard that there is not enough funding for that… well guess what, I am not buying that theory… There is funding, there is budget, it’s not just allocated to the right area, like this,

Here’s an example…

I have to say I have moved on from this event, Like seriously, I have forgotten about this until the time we received the result. It was like a flashback like everything just happened this morning.

So after learning about the outcome, suddenly I remember the $11.7 million given by Greens to a Taranaki private school for an expansion project. The private school charges 24K a year for kiwi pupils and 43K a year for intl students. This is public knowledge, go search on the internet, this was sometimes on the 26th or 27th of August 2020. This is a fact so not making things up here, go search, now, and go back to this podcast. Now I was thinking, how many kids could have benefited from this money, How many kids with special needs could have benefited?

So what I am saying is that I am not buying any reason for no funding, at all. There is money, it is just not allocated to where it should go. 

I am not supposed to make this as a rant podcast, this is not Takiwatanga… but worth sharing parents are aware of this criterion 8. 

Anyways, I would love to get some time from the Ministry and see how we can work together for these kids. I will be documenting that side of the journey and will keep everyone here posted.

ORS (Ongoing Resourcing Scheme):

ORS Criterion 8:


About Takiwātanga


I Am Lloyd I Am

Takiwātanga Advocate and Proud dad

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