Mahinawa Specialist School

(04) 238 4314 1b Takapuwahia Dr, Takapuwahia, Porirua 5022


Parent A to Z

This contains the answers to some frequently asked questions


If your child is unable to come to school for any reason, please let the school know by either leaving a message on Seesaw or leaving a message on the Absence Line (04 238 4314).

Teachers complete the attendance register at 9.30 each morning and will cross check the absentees noted by the receptionist  and any messages on Seesaw.  

If we have no record  and your child's absence is unaccounted for the teacher or receptionist will contact you. This is to make sure all students' absences are known by parents and no students are missing and unaccounted for. 

Accidents and Illnesses

 If your child becomes ill at school or if an accident requires ongoing attention we will contact you so that your child can be taken home.   Any knock on the head can have serious medical consequences. If your child has a knock on the head,  parents will be always be rung to allow them to decide any further action. This maybe that they collect the studentand take them for a medical check. 

In an emergency, an ambulance and parents will be called immediately. 

If your child has any other medical conditions, please make sure you have completed a care plan and staff are aware of what is needed. If your child is an asthmatic, please make sure an inhaler is at school.  If your child has seizures, please make sure that staff have a seizure management plan and are aware of the action that is needed in case of a seizure. 

if your child is needing antibiotics for an illness, please keep them at home for the first 48 hours of taking the medication so that they can rest and ensure the medication has time to start working.

If your child, says they have a headache and requests Panadol, parents will be called for permission. 


Attendance is important and really matters.   Most of our students arrive in SESTA transport and staff are on site in class to receive them.  If you are bringing your child to school yourself, please make sure they are not dropped off before 8.30am. 

If a student does not arrive at school, you will be contacted to ensure you are aware of their absence.

Board of Trustees Meetings

Board meetings are held on the last Monday of the month at 6.30pm. These are usually at Seaview site but sometimes the Board will meet at a satellite class. 

Check on the Board pages of this website for the dates of meetings.

Visitors are welcome to attend but as a courtesy, please contact the Board Chair or Principal to let them know of your attention.

Visitors at Board meetings, do not have speaking rights and maybe be asked to leave should the Board go into an In Committee disucssion. 

Car Parking

At the Seaview site, a car park is available but as the staff grows, there is less free sapces in it. If parents are unable to park in the car park, they can park in the drop off zone outside the front doors. These need to be quick pick ups and drop offs as the SESTA vehicles park here from 8.30am to 9am and from 2.30pm to 3pm. 

Please, when coming into the grounds of the host school sites, make sure that you follow their requests. 

  • At Mohuia, most of the carparks near the class belong to Awesome Bounce or LogicalIT so it is best to park on the street. 
  • At Porirua, Titahi Bay and Kapiti classes parents will need to park in the school carpark.  
  • At Raumati class, there is some parking available outside the class, but only for quick pick ups and drop offs.
  • At Ngati Toa class, parents can come to the class door at present but this will not be the case when we move to our new class later this year. Parents need to remember that they are driving through a playground and be alert.  The gates are now locked between 8.50am and 9.15am and 2.50pm and 3.15pm no cars are allowed on site 
  • At Porirua class, cars are not allowed in the school grounds after 8.45am and after 2.45pm.

Contact details

All teacher s phone parents and caregivers in Week Two and Week Three of every school term.  In these conversations they will ask parents to update their contact details and emergency information. They will ask for any changes in medication or care of your child. 

Dental Services

The CCDHB hospital dental service visits the Seaview site once a year around September.  The visiting team set up in the library and students visit with support from our staff. 

Students in satellite classes can access the mobile dental clinic van that visits these schools once a year.  Again Mahinawa staff support students during their checks. For further information visit their website http://www.beehealthy/ or ring the host school office to see when they are next in school. 

Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC)

As a school, we consider Education Out Of the Classroom (EOTC) an important part of the learning programme.  It provides an opprtunity for students to experience new settings and to master managing themselves successfully in these spaces. The range of opportunites offered is wide:

  • Local parks and walking tracks as part of a leisure and fitness programme
  • Local swimming centres for both a swimming programme and as a part of a leisure programme
  • Local libraries
  • Local supermarkets
  • Local shopping centres
  • Gymnastic centres
  • Bouncy castle facilities
  • Fitness gyms

Parents are always asked for permission for their children to particpate. Teachers explain the risks of the activity and the space in which it occurs in their permission letter. The Principal and teacher has accepted the risks and the the management  of these before the letter to parents is sent out.

Parents are welcome to ask for more information about any event outside the classroom setting. 

The Board feels that inclusion in the local community is essential and as a result cover much of the costs involved in any of these activities.

Emergency Management - Fire, Flood, Earthquake, Tsunami, Lockdown

In each term, for two weeks (Weeks 2 and 3) the staff focus on emergency management. They drill students in specific emergency procedures each term. They take this time to check and refresh medication, water and food supplies and to update each student's civil defence plan. 

All classes have an emergency pack. These packs contain civil emergency plans for all students and staff along with nappies water, biscuits and treats  to engage the students. It also contains basic emergency equipment as recommended by MOE guidleines. 

Communcations with parents will be via Seesaw should any emergency situation arise .

Parents need to be aware that staff are not allowed to release students to any persons not named on their civil defence plan. It is wise for parents to include a wide selection of friends and family who might, in an emergency be able to collect their children from school. When collecting students in an emergency, please make sure that the person in charge is aware who you are and where you are taking them.

Fire Evacuations: Classes in satellites follow the evacuation procedures that the host school has in place. Classes in Seaview follow the school's procedures.   Each school will have a designated assembly space and will be displayed in each class and in the school office. On the Seaview site students evacuate to the orchard. This keeps them safe and contained and away from the building and the tempation to re-enter the building. 

Earthquake Drills:  Students practice getting under tables and holding the legs of these. They are taught safe spaces  in buildings and playgrounds as an alternative if the tables are not available. Senior management of either the host school or Mahinawa School will let staff know when it is safe to evacuate the building.   

Lockdown Drills: These are practiced in case of bee swarms, gas leaks or intruders. In a lockdown, no visitors are allowed on site and no students are allowed out of the classroom space.  We follow police instructions should their be an intruder. 

Floods: Should a satellite site become flooded, students will be moved away from the harm as soon as the risk of flooding is recognised. In Porriua, we evacuate early if safe to do so and move to the Seaview site where we are above the flooding zone and have more options for evacuation. Parents will be  and  n an.otifed by Seesaw if evacuation is needed and regularly updated of the situation as it unfolds. 

Tsunami: In a long or very strong earthquake, staff and students are to run to a designated high point. In Satellite classes these are identfied in their emergency plan frommthe Host school. Check with class teachers where the assembly point is. In Seaview site, students will move up Kotuku Street to the highest point and to continue to move up Waiho Terrace if they feel unsafe.  Parents can meet students at these points if they can. Once the threat of tsunami has passed, students will move back to the Seaview site or their satellite.


Health nurses and techicians such as hearing testers visit the school from time to time.  Information will come home if your child is involved.

Each year the immunisation team visit the school to update vaccinations. Our staff will support students during these. 

If your child has a medical condition, please make sure staff are aware of it and what procedures are needed and when. 

How is the level of student support decided?

When a student enrols in our school, the Principal and Lead Therapist visit the student in their setting and from their observations decisions are made  around the most appropriate class, the level of therapy input needed and the support the class will need to ensure the student can engage in learning tasks and their personal cares can be met. Generally speaking, we allow two full time support staff per teacher although someimes we will put in extra teaching time instead of support staff hours.  

Students receive Ongoing Resourcing (ORS)  funds to help fund support time, therapy time, some teacher time and some consumables needed to provide an appropriate learning programme.

A student's ORS funding is not enough to fully pay for the therapy and the support staff time and so the school directs a susbtantial amount of the operational funds to boost the ORS budget in order to meet the school's support staff salaries. 

Sometimes the Ministry of Education or ACC will supplement a student's ORS funding in order for a student to have more cover for a specific purpose.  In these cases the support staff will work directly with that student or in that student's class. Otherwise the ORS funding is managed across the school.

How does my child access the therapies?

When a student enrols in our school, the Pirncipal and the Lead Therapist will visit the student's current school to assess what level of therapy support a student is likely to need.  

Once they are in class, the therapy team will then spend some time assessing their needs and developing a programme for them with the clalss teacher.

Occupational and Speech Language Therapists are in junior classes regualrly, either weekly or twice weekly.  It is our belief that by the time a student is at the secondary level, they will have their needs  well met and will only need support should things change for him. If this happens the teacher will put in a referral for help from the Therapy Team and a therapist will look at how they can support the student. 

Music Therapists work with all students in a rotataion. This is usally through group sessions but sometimes with an individual.

The Behaviour Specialist works across the school and across all sites on a referral system. The therapist will then target students with the highest need first. Teachers, Senior Management and parents can all refer to the behaviour specialist.  

How to enrol my child?

To enrol in Mahinawa Specialist School, a student must have two things in place.

  • The child must have ORS funding. It can be either High ORS or Very High ORS. Sometimes  we are allowed to enrol students with High Health Needs funding instead of ORS funding but itat the discretion of the Minstry of Education.
  • The child must have  a Section 9. This is an agreement between the Ministry of Education, the parent and the principal of the school, that our school is best school able to meet the student's needs.

Once the Section 9 has been approved, the student can enrol and the transition process begun. When enrolling a student, parents need to bring  the following:

  • the child's birth certificate or passport, 
  • their vaccination record 
  • a document showing  the parent's residential address. 

Parent Teacher Communications

Communication between parents and staff is essential.  We feel that open and frequent communication avoids issues developing later. We always encourage parent and whanau to air their concerns with the teacher, the DP or the princpal so they can be resolved.

Over the years we have used a variety of ways to maintain open communication. At present we are using the app, Seesaw to share information between home and school.  All parents have been provided with a QR code that links directly to their child. Any achievement or discussion is private to that child and their whanau. 

All staff also have a staff email address which they check daily.  This can always be used to ask for clarification of a situation. 

The Principal and therpay staff are happy to take calls and to meet at any time. If you would like a meeting with a teacher, it is best to email them or to call the office to set up a meeting when they are not teaching in class. Coming out of class to meet with parents is disruptive to the class.. 

Lost Property

If your child loses something, please let the teacher know immediately via Seesaw. She can then notify other parents to keep a look out for the missing item. 

It is sensible if parents make sure that students don't bring precious toys and books to school and that their clothing is named. 

Our IEP Process

IEPs are central to your child's programme.  They are legally required for all students with Ongoing Resourcing (ORS). 

We hold two IEP meetings a year.  

  1. The first IEP meeting is used to set goals for the year. These meetings are held in the last half of Term One and sometimes the first few weeks of Term Two. Academic goals which are developed from the next steps of learning are included in the document.  Teachers prepare the draft document and send a black and white copy to parents prior to the actual meeting. At the meeting, the team identifies areas to be focus for rest of the year. The final decision of what staff are to focus on is  for parents to make.

  1. The second IEP meeting is used to review progress since the last meeting and to report the student's progress on the current IEP goals. They are held in the last half of Term Three and the early weeks of Term Four. At these meetings, it can be decided whether to continue with a goal as it is written or to modify it or to extend the goal to new staff, situations or settings.

Parents are encouraged to use Worlh Health Organisation's International Classification of Functioning Disability and Health. This focuses on  six key areas of child development calling them the six F-words (Function, Family, Fitness, Fun, Friends and Future).  These are an excellent way to consider what are important goals for the future that could be developed in an IEP.  We have provided a link to the original document below. 

Physical Education and Sport

All classes have a PE/ Sport programme.  Students in satellite classes may take part in sports and PE programmes with their inclusion class.

At times, the PE programmes will  be replaced by a Physiotherapy programme or a Perceptual Motor Planning programme.

Some Seaview and Mohuia students may take part in the Wellington College Sports programme. This has a differetn focus each term with our teams competing against those from other colleges.  

Seaview students have access to a bike track in the orchard and this is used for walking and movement programmes using scooters, bikes or trikes.

Playground supervision

Our students are always supervised when they are in the playground. The level of supervision will depend on the individual student's needs.

Reporting to parents

Because the IEP is a key driver of students' programmes, we use this to report formally to parents. The first IEP, will contain information on academic achievement to date and their focus for the coming year in Mathematics, English and the Key Competencies. In the second half of the year, a review meeting will be held and the information on progress updated in these areas as well on the progress in the IEP goals.

Student Lunches and Morning Teas

Parents are asked to supply students with a lunch and morning tea. Water is always available to students, but should a student need any other kind of drink, parents should supply that too.

At times a site may have students who have life threatening allergic reactions to some items of food. Should this be the case, parents will be asked to refrain from including these in any packed food from home. Some examples of these food items are egg, nuts and peanut butter.

At IEP meetings, it may be decided that making their own lunch or making their own choices at meal breaks are to be goals for the year and in this case parents will be asked to provide some lunch choices with staff  supervising the preparation of the meal. 

In host schools, there maybe the option to purchase a lunch or a treat. Parents are asked to follow the procedures for this.  Ask the class teacher for further information on this.  Parents can send the money and the choice in a named envelope and staff will forward it to the host school's office for processing. 

At Seaview site, on the last day of term, the students can choose to have a fish and chips lunch. A notice will be sent home. parents can make their choice and send the money in a named envelope to school for processing. 

School Teams

The school is organised into three teams. 

  • The Coast Team includes the Kapiti Primary class, the Raumati Beach School class and the new Kapiti College class
  • The Harbour Team includes the Porirua School class, the Ngati Toa School class, the Titahi Bay Intermediate class and the Mohuia hub
  • The Seaview Team includes the seven classes on site. This includes Seaview One, Seaview Two, Seaview Three, Seaview Four, Seaview Five, Seaview Six and Seaview Seven.


All schools are smokefree and smoking in the buildings and grounds is not permitted.  Smoking is not allowed in the building, playground, carpark or driveway areas.


At the end of the previous year the next year's Stationery List is included in the envelope containing the school Yearbook. 

Before sending home the list, staff will have checked if there are any  stationery (books pencils pens etc)  remaining  from the current year's supplies and will adjust the individual student's list accordingly.

School Hours

We begin school at 9am and finish at 3pm.

The end of each term finishing time is the same as any school day in order to fit in with the trasnport runs. 

In some Satellite classes, the host school grounds are closed to through traffic at specific times.

SESTA vehicles should be dropping off students at  no earlier than 8,.30am and picking up students no earlier than 2.45pm. 

Student Placement

When a child enrols, the principal and therapy leader visit them in their current setting.  This provides us with some information about how the student can manage themselves, the level of  supervision and personal care they will need and the level at which they are functioning academically. 

It is rare that we have a choice of classes when placing a student for the first time during the year. It is more a question of which classes have a vacancy  for a new student. 

In the third term each year, Senior Management look at who is leaving the school, who is enrolling in the school and what changes we need to make for students already within the school.  We then try and match students needs and place students in a class that best meets their needs, achievement levels and personality. 

Where we have students entering a satellite class and there is a choice  of class available, where the student is placed will be determined by whether the class has already had any new students to date or if they have had or about to have any disruptions such a a change in teacher. 

Tax Invoice

If you require a tax receipt for any donations paid this year, please contact the accounts manager by email  and we will print one. Please request this before the end of the school year as our system is archived at the end of each year and is no longer accessible.

Term Dates


Term One: 

  • Starting Monday January 28 and finishing Friday April 12
  • There is a public holiday on Waitangi Day Wednesday February 6 

Term Two: 

  • Starting Monday 22 and finishing Friday July 5 
  • There is a public holiday on Queen's Birthday Monday June 3

Term Three: 

  • Starting Monday July 22 and finishing Friday September 27

Term Four:

  • Monday October 14 and finishing Wednesday 11 December
  • There is a public holiday on Labour Day Monday October 21

Please Note:

In the latest negotiations for the Teachers Employment Contract, the Ministry of Education gave teachers 8 Teacher Only days to help them with their workload issues. These 8 days are to be used from July 2019 to June 2022. In order to be able to cover the eight days in that period, there will be a Teacher Only day on the last day of Term Three this year. This will not need to be worked at the end of the school year.

Use of photos and videos of students

Parents are asked each year for their consent for staff to use photos and videos  of their child for various purposes. If you are uncomfortable about having your child's photo used on the website or class or team blogs, please don't hesitate to say no.

When publishing any images in a public domain, staff will always seek parent permission. Parents will receive a letter or a phone call explaining the situation. If unsure, please don't hestiate to phone the staff involved for clarification or request further information through Seesaw.

Staff only use a student's first name when publishing their work or their image. 

All classes have ipads available to take images . They are expected to upload any images taken on their private phones at the end of eh school day. 

As part of their inducation, staff are told that they are not allowed to share any images of students. Nor are they allowed to store student images on their personal phones. 

Valuable items

Valuable or precious items and toys are best left at home as their loss or breakage can cause much distress. 

What is the maximum school roll?

The Seaview site has a roll cap of 40 students. This has been put in place  by the Ministry of Education when designing the new building.

The roll cap for any satellite site varies because each space varies in size.

The size of classes is not set in any space but rather is determined by the needs and behaviours of the students in the class.  However as a rule of thumb we aim to have around 4-6 students at Seaview classes and 6- 9 in satellite classes depending on the site size.

What costs are parents expected to pay for?

In 2019, parents are asked to contribute to the cost of Food Technology, Technology materials, the transport to activities within the community and the entry to those activities through their $200 per anuum activity fee.

In 2020, there will be no activty fee as the government is offering to contribute $150 per student to cover these costs. 

Parents are expected to pay for student lunches and stationery.

What do I need to know about SESTA transport.

When a parent applies for SESTA assistance to transport the child to school, a form is completed and signed by the parent, the Mahinawa Principal and the local Ministry of Education staff.  It is then forwarded to the Regional Manager and if approved, it is sent through to the Transport team in the Ministry. This team cost the run and then either forward it to the contractor to set up the service with the parents or write to the parents declining the service. 

If your child is declined SESTA transport, you can ask for a review of their decision. This requires a new form to be completed by the Principal, the parent and the local Ministry of Education.

If approved, the contractor, in our case, Cross Country Rentals, will ring you and organise the time they will be able to pick up your child from home and when they will be dropped home at the end of the day. The company tries to meet parents' needs but as this is not a taxi service per se, parents do have to make allowance for the fact that they have to fit it in with the other families involved in the run. 

The driver may also ring you to find out some more information about your child so that he knows how to best manage them.   Their contract is to drive the vehicle and deliver your child at home or at school safely. It is not their role to put the student into their seat.  Parents and  school staff are expected to do that. 

The SESTA vehicle cannot drop students at any other destination than has been approved.  As a result it is  best to make sure that, you have respite addresses and emergency addresses listed on the original form. This will mean that in an emergency, the child can be dropped there and a new application will not need to be completed.

The SESTA service has very strict health and safety requirements.  It is essential that students sit securely in their seats  because to have a student moving about in the back of a van or car is dangerous and distracting for the driver.  If a student acts in an unsafe manner, the company can refuse to transport them until something is done to make sure they do not do it aagin. School staff will prepare a Safe Travel Plan to address the issues. After signing by the parents , this is then sent to the Ministry for approval and the service is reinstated. 

Parents need to be aware that there is a process to applying for SESTA and it can take some time for the place in a vehcile to be approved.   Families  are usually informed first before the school.  Always allow three weeks for the processing time.

What does success look like for each student?

A student's success may look  different to that of other students.

In our school, we design indivdual programmes with personalised tasks. While every child's success with those tasks will vary across the school, it is expected that each student will always be experiencing success and making gains.

Teachers are expected to track achievement of IEP goals and academic goals and to know the next step of learning for each student in their class.  

Regular reports are made to the Board of Trustees on student achievement in key learing areas.  Through these reports, we can track overall achievement, identify areas of concern, make plans as to how to address these concerns and ensure that any funds are available in the budget in the future to address the costs in implementing these plans such as equipment or professional development. 

Each year the teaching staff and Board will identify a learning area and a group of students whose achievement has slowed in that area.  Teachers will work on teaching inquiries over the year looking into how they can lift the perfomance of these students by exploring new approaches and ways to present the learning to the students.

What happens when my child is 21 and has to leave the schooling system?

We recognise that moving out of the school is a big step for any parents and students and is especially challenging for parents of our students.  We encourage parents from the start of the college years to be thinking things through so that it easier to make some key decisions when needed in their last years.

When your  child begins college, disucssions start with their team and you about what interests the student and what skills they have that we could be developing further.  

Over Year 9 and 10, any new knowledge gets added to the student's transiton pathway document at each IEP meeting. 

By the time the child is at the end of Year 10, and with your help ,the team will have some ideas about what is needed  to enable the student to build these skills further in Years 11, 12 and 13 into important skills for their future.  It maybe that the focus is on self care skills and extending leisure skills or it might be that some of those skills could be developed into a volunteer or paid worker role. 

The final IEP in Year 12 or 13 is about making a plan for the future. We will have recognised the student's skills and which work expereince opportunities have been successful for them. The plan will identify what roles we are going to set up for the future and what skills are still needed, or need more development so that the student can leave confidently at 21 years. 

In the last three years in Years 13, 14 and 15, the students will work on gaining as much independence as possible in the community, establishing sensible, safe routines at activities that will be part of their week post school.  For some students, they will move into the adult class, Mohuia Hub. This helps them gain independence in managing their leisure time in a less structured setting, away from the school environment. For others, the same independence will be encouraged in an older class at Seaview or a College satellite. 

At 20 years of age, the end of Year 14, the transition is taken over by Minstry of Social Development agencies. These agencies will contact parents and explain their role to them.  Parents will sign a contract to engage them as the student's transition coordinator of their choice. A meeting will be set up to document the student's life plan and for the rest of the year they will assist parents to make the first steps of the plan happen .  By Term Four of Year 15, the student should be comfortably settled in some post school setting, and the issues around supervision, transport, permanent care etc should have been resolved. Family and students can then move successfully out of the school setting into young adult life. 

What happens when my child has to move to an intermediate class at Year 6 or a college setting at Year 8?

At the first IEP meeting in the year your child is  Year 6 or Year 8, their team will discuss with you what your plans are for the next year. Parents will be made aware of what their opions are and encouraged to visit those to make a choice .

Once a choice is made by the parent, they should notify the school of their intention to enrol or notify our school that they intend to move to out of the school or that they wish to stay and move to our intermediate class or one of our secondary settings.  The new setting will notify the Ministry of Education and a professionals' meeting will be set up with their team to handover the student's educational and therapy information. It is important that this is done early enough to allow for the new local school to assess the student's needs and to apply for the the support hours needed to ensure that the move ito the new setting is successful. 

A transition meeting will be set up with our team and the new setting's staff and a plan around visits to help the student become familiar with the spaces, the staff and the routines and for staff there to become familiar with the student's needs.  

Once the student has moved into the new setting, Mahinawa staff will ring to see if there is any extra support or information required of them.

Why should I enrol my child in Mahinawa School?

Enrolling in Mahinawa School is the start of a jouney with us.    We specialise in teaching students like your child. Our school is staffed with specialised teachers, therapy staff and support staff whose role it is to teach and support your child to grow and learn and develop. 

Our energy and funidng is used to make sure your child has the staffing they need. Our therapy team visit classes weekly. Our classes have high staff to student ratios. One teacher has from five to six stdents in their class.  

We see all our students as learners. Without exception, we expect your child to be making gains, growing and developing into the best they can be. 

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