2017 Learning Support Client Satisfaction Survey

Publication Details

This report presents the results from the Ministry of Education’s 2017 Learning Support Client Satisfaction Survey. The Ministry carries out this survey every year to learn from parents and educators what aspects of service delivery are doing well, and areas for improvement.

Author(s): SE&S Manager Performance Quality and Capability

Date Published: December 2018

Executive Summary

The covers the Ministry's four Learning Support core services:

  • Early Intervention
  • Communication
  • Behaviour
  • Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)

Fifteen percent (377) of parents and 46% (1,173) of educators surveyed responded to the survey. The findings presented in this report should therefore be interpreted with some caution as they may not be representative of all parents and educators as they are only a small sample of those who engage with Learning Support services each year.

Changes to the methodology and survey questionnaire

The 2017 survey uses a different methodology for calculating satisfaction than surveys from previous years. Previously, satisfaction was calculated by calculating the proportion of respondents who indicated satisfaction. The results for 2017 utilise the Service Quality Score (SQS) method which is representative of all responses, including those who were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.

The survey asks respondents to rate their satisfaction with services or agreement with service related statements using a scale from 1 to 5. Each five point rating scale is converted to a service quality score (SQS) ranging from 0 to 100.

Key findings

Overall Satisfaction Service Quality Score

The overall SQS for satisfaction with Learning Support service delivery is 73. Overall satisfaction was higher for parents (77) than for educators (71).

Aspects of service delivery that parents and educators rated most highly

Parents and educators rated the following aspects of service delivery most highly:

  Service Quality Score
I was treated fairly 84 82 82
I was included in developing the plants and goals 83 76 77
Staff were competent 82 77 78
Staff did what they said they would do 81 76 77
Our cultural needs were considered 81 75 77

Aspects of service delivery that parents and educators were least satisfied with

Parents and educators reported the lowest levels of satisfaction with the following aspects of service delivery:

  Service Quality Score
Satisfied with my child's progress after the service 73 66 68
The amount of time it took to get the service 66 63 64

Satisfaction of parents and educators of Māori and Pasifika learners

Parents of Pasifika children gave a significantly higher SQS to the overall quality of services than parents of children in other ethnic groups. There was no significant difference in the satisfaction levels of parents of Māori children compared to other ethnic groups in addition to this.

Parents of Māori and Pasifika children reported on average higher levels of satisfaction with the overall service delivery than educators of these children. On a whole, the parents of Māori and Pasifika children were satisfied that their cultural needs had been considered while receiving Learning Support services.


Attendance at school

Ninety five percent of parents said that their children attended school all day (unless justifiably absent). This is an increase from 2016, when 87% of parents reported that their children attended school all day. However, the proportion of educators reporting this was the same as in 2016 at 93%.

Both parents and educators reported significantly fewer students receiving Behaviour services attended all day, compared to students receiving Communication and ORS services.

Parents and educators who provided a reason for a child not attending all day gave broadly similar reasons, largely related to funding for support hours at school.

Participation in out of classroom activities

Compared to 2016, there was an increase in the proportion of parents and educators saying students have opportunities to participate in out of classroom activities. Overall, the proportion of respondents saying students always have the opportunity to participate in out of classroom activities increased from 72% in 2016 to 78% in 2017.

Both parents and educators reported that students receiving Behaviour services were less likely to have such opportunities. In addition to this, students who did not attend school for full days were less likely to have the opportunity to participate in out of classroom activities.

Welcome at school and early learning services

Parents’ SQS for ‘Welcome at school and early learning services’ was 91. Parents of children receiving a Behaviour service provided a SQS significantly lower (82) for this aspect of service than parents of all other services.

Ways Learning Support could improve the service to increase parents’ and educators’ satisfaction

Parents and educators who were less than ‘very satisfied’ with the overall quality of service delivery were asked how Learning Support could improve services to get a rating of ‘very satisfied’.

Key areas for improvement that both parents and educators reported related to:

  • increasing resources, including funding for support staff
  • having more services, including taking a more holistic approach by providing mutiple services to children with wide-ranging needs
  • improving communciation between all parties, parents/whānau, educators and Learning Support staff, including increasing the amount and the quality of communication
  • improving the reliability and regualirty of services
  • having more direct and practical support specifically to develop the skills and strategies of parents/whānau and educators.

Implications of findings

The survey findings highlight the areas where Learning Support services are delivering well, and provide feedback on the areas where service delivery could improve. The findings show that overall, parents and educators are less satisfied with the overall quality of Learning Support service delivery than the Ministry’s target for this measure.

The feedback received from the survey mirrors many of the key findings and areas for improvement identified in the 2015 Special Education (now Learning Support) Update. The Ministry is already implementing a number of changes to improve Learning support service delivery in relation to the feedback received from parents, educators and the sector during the Learning Support Update.

What we're doing to improve service delivery

Increasing resources to meet growth in demand

Since 2011, when the first Client Satisfaction Survey was run, we have seen a significant increase in service delivery, in comparison to relatively static staffing levels. Between 2011-2017 the number of children and young people receiving core services has increased by 17% (29,000 in 2011/2012 to 34,000 children in 2016/2017). In this period the number of Ministry specialist service delivery staff increased by 12.5% with the majority of this increase occurring between 2016 and 2017 (from 780 full time equivalents at 30 June 2012 to 798 at 30 June 2016 and 878 at 30 June 2017).

An additional $81.6 million over four years was announced in Budget 2017 to support students with additional learning needs. This includes a tagged contingency to expand the Ministry’s Behaviour Service to enable greater focus on children aged under eight. The Expanding Behaviour Services initiative will support an additional 1,000 children aged 0-8 each year through the employment of 56 FTE specialist staff. The initiative also provides 46 psychologist internships over four years to build the supply of specialist staff.

Updating our service delivery approach

We are updating our Learning Support service delivery approach in response to the feedback from parents, educators and the sector during the 2015 Special Education Update. The Ministry has been working over the past two years with local communities to test out new approaches to improve outcomes for children and young people. The improved approach builds on the experiences of pilots conducted in 2016, in 22 small local improvement projects throughout New Zealand, and in three Communities of Learning Ɩ Kāhui Ako in the Bay of Plenty region.

The new service delivery approach will make learning support easier to access, child-centred and better integrated with health and social services, so that children and young people with learning support needs get the right support when they need it.


  1. For each question using the 5 point scale, a service quality score (SQS) is calculated by rescaling the result from each respondent's five point scale (1,2,3,4,5) to a 101 point scale (0,25,50,75,100) then calculating an average of these scores for each aspect of service asked in the survey.
  2. The overall SQS is calculated from all the aspects of service asked about in the survey.

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