29 May 2023

Build whanaungatanga

Partner with tāngata whaitakiwātanga, autistic students and their whānau so you can understand and respond to their learning needs.

Act on whānau expertise

Act on whānau expertise

Parents, Dayna and Phil, and class teacher Linda Ojala demonstrate the impact of working in close and responsive partnership.

Connect with culturally sustaining frameworks

Connect with culturally sustaining frameworks

Learn from ākonga and whānau using culturally sustaining frameworks. Understand how to meet hauora or wellbeing and learning needs.

For example, use dimensions from the Māori health model, Te Whare Tapa Whā 

Taha Whānau - family, people and relationships

  • whānau, friends, iwi and hapū
  • cultural, religious, social and recreational connections
  • professionals working with the family.

Taha Wairua - spiritual wellbeing or life force

  • spiritually strengthening aspects, for example, faith, being in nature, creative activities and meditation  
  • special interests, hopes and priorities for ākonga and whānau.

Taha Tinana - physical wellbeing

  • physical activity and recreation preferences
  • sensory challenges
  • medications and allergies.

Taha Hinengaro - mental and emotional wellbeing

  • strengths and talents
  • dislikes, what can upset them 
  • signs that the student is beginning to feel upset or anxious
  • strategies used to calm students.

Whenua - connection to the land and environment

  • important places
  • Iwi and hapū, maunga and awa - mountains and rivers
  • interests in the environment, plants and animals
  • connections to people and ancestors.

Find out what's important

Find out what's important

Ask students and parents to tell you about what's important so you can connect it to learning. 

Read Freya's story A girl and her indispensable cat - Stuff.

Build the learner profile over time

Build the learner profile over time

Learner profiles can help school staff build relationships with ākonga and their whānau, understand their perspectives and design learning to meet student needs.

Considerations for learner profiles.

  • Provide multiple opportunities and methods to develop the profile.
  • Prioritise information from students by using effective communication techniques, for example, point to select, or communication boards.
  • Revisit the profile on a regular basis to add depth and new insights.
  • Use a range of input methods such as conversations, observations, formal reviews and regular surveys.
  • Encourage students to understand their needs and preferences as a learner.
  • Act on information that is shared so students can see how their voice helps you design learning experiences that work for them.

For more information download the Ministry of Education Developing Learner Profiles pdf.

Find approaches that work at school and at home

Find approaches that work at school and at home

Share approaches that are successful at home or at school to build continuity, strengthen engagement and facilitate learning.

Approaches or items that could be shared or aligned across home and school include:

  • home routines that support the student
  • home supports for day-to-day life
  • student interests, such as favourite topics, colours, sports and music
  • phrases, visual cues, signs and other communication techniques
  • visuals that support understanding
  • strategies and solutions for specific issues
  • objects and items that are meaningful and offer support for their children
  • calming strategies, for example, objects, cushions, dark spaces and headphones
  • eating and personal routines
  • furniture and physical supports, for example, chairs and table heights.

Useful resources

Useful resources

Template and guidelines for developing a learner profile.
Developing learner profiles

Developing learner profiles

Read time: 3 min

This document provides general support and guidance when developing a learner profile. It includes prompts and questions, alongside purpose and benefits for students.


Download PDF (211 KB)

About me

About me

This learner profile template is a companion to "Developing learner profiles". It is an interactive PDF with questions for students to answer.

Download PDF (596 KB)


Stephen’s letter

Stephen introduces himself to his teachers before starting at Garin College in Nelson.

Download PDF (69 KB)

Family whanau file2

Family/whānau file

A booklet to help parents of students with additional needs to brief their child’s school.

Publisher: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Visit website

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Identify needs and ways to provide support”:

Return to the guide “Autism and learning”