How effective is the current Resource Teacher Learning and Behaviour cluster model? Publications
This Ministry of Education commissioned ERO report looks at a representative sample of Resource Teacher Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) clusters and evaluates the effectiveness of their governance and management of the RTLB resource in their cluster.
RTLB work as itinerant teachers in clusters of schools. They support students with learning and behaviour difficulties and build teacher capability in working with diverse groups of students.
Author(s): Education Review Office
Date Published: November 2009
Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) work as itinerant teachers in clusters of schools. The RTLB service is governed and managed in these clusters. The Government allocates approximately $73 million per annum to fund the RTLB service to support students with learning and behaviour difficulties, and to build teacher capability in working with diverse groups of students.
The Education Review Office (ERO) previously reviewed the RTLB service in 2004. The Ministry of Education responded to the 2004 evaluation by developing a policy document and guidelines Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB) Policy and Toolkit (2007) to replace the previous RTLB Guidelines 2001. The intent of this document was to guide schools in their management of the resource and to improve accountability. Three national positions were also established: a national RTLB coordinator, a professional practice advisor and an RTLB advisor.
ERO's 2009 evaluation focused on the effectiveness of the current governance and management model and the impact of the Policy and Toolkit. Evidence was gathered from reviews of 40 RTLB clusters, representing 20 percent of the 199 RTLB clusters throughout New Zealand. The data was gathered during Term 1, 2009.
Despite increased guidance and support from the Ministry of Education, the wide variability of governance and management practice ERO reported in 2004 remains evident. The findings in this evaluation closely mirror those of ERO's 2004 evaluation of the RTLB service. A lack of strong external and internal accountabilities for the use of funding and management of RTLB remains an issue in a large proportion of clusters.
ERO found that just under half (18) of the 40 clusters were well governed and managed. Cluster effectiveness was found to be strongly influenced by leadership, especially from convenors or managers, and cluster principals' active support and involvement. In those that were led effectively, the purpose and nature of the service was clearly understood and the work of RTLB was well managed, monitored and evaluated.
Just over half (22) of the RTLB clusters were not well governed or managed. Self review was limited or non-existent, and clusters were not identifying needs or priorities. In many of these clusters RTLB were not getting their employment entitlements, particularly in relation to professional supervision and performance management. Aspects of referral and intervention practices were inconsistent with RTLB policy, and the lack of monitoring systems at management level meant such inconsistencies were not being identified or addressed.
Considerable variation in how clusters managed the Learning Support Funding (LSF) and Year 11 to 13 funding means that the Ministry of Education cannot be assured these funds are allocated and used in accordance with RTLB policy. A total of $969,000 of LSF across all RTLB clusters was reported to the Ministry of Education as under-spent in 2007 and $476,000 in 2008. The widespread lack of accountability and use of these funds is of concern.
Across the 40 clusters in this evaluation, ERO found evidence of Ministry staff giving advice or making decisions that were inconsistent with the stated RTLB policy. This was particularly in relation to decisions about employment practices and RTLB training. The involvement of Group Special Education (GSE) staff and the quality and nature of the partnership between RTLB clusters and GSE varied considerably among clusters.
At the time of this evaluation there were 199 clusters of varying size managing 799 RTLB. This evaluation of 40 of the clusters demonstrates that the current model for governing and managing the RTLB service does not ensure all students referred to the RTLB service are well served.
This report highlights good practice found in clusters that were well governed and managed, and identifies steps for improvement that could be used in the short term to address identified issues. However, it raises the question as to whether a larger economy of scale would better serve schools, teachers and students. It is ERO's view that the existing governance and management model should be reviewed to ensure a more cohesive and consistent approach to the service that RTLB provide for schools.
Such a review would provide an opportunity to rationalise the management and deployment of available resources to improve support for students and teachers. A seamless approach to such provision should be based on a robust analysis of needs across schools that identifies priorities, and determines the nature and timing of interventions based on sound evidence.
A more cohesive use of resources could be achieved by:
- improving coordination of schools' access to the full range of appropriate special education personnel support;
- making better use of the specialist knowledge and skills of RTLB and other specialists;
- providing relevant professional development to build RTLB capability;
- ensuring appropriate and timely professional supervision for RTLB;
- minimising opportunities for the capture of RTLB by individual schools; and
- recognising the needs of students and teachers in secondary schools and resourcing these appropriately.
ERO recommends that in the short term the Ministry of Education and RTLB clusters use the findings of this evaluation to address identified issues to improve the governance and management of clusters.
ERO recommends that in the medium term the Ministry of Education initiates a review of the current RTLB cluster model to determine the best approach to governing and managing the RTLB service in the context of the wider special education provision.
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