What is Specialised School Transport Assistance (SESTA)?
SESTA is for students aged between 5 and 21 years who have safety and/or mobility needs that prevent them from traveling independently to or from the closest state school, state-integrated school, or other educational settings.
There are two types of support:
1. A vehicle
2. Travel (conveyance) allowance to help families with the cost of transport. Mileage is calculated at .27 cents per/km (as per IRD guidelines)
When do I apply for SESTA?
Applications should be submitted at least one full school term before the service is required and whenever there is a change or addition of address, change of school (including a move to or from a satellite class), or a change in circumstances (such as changes in the student’s health, mobility or safety). Change of information applications is reviewed for ongoing eligibility.
Click Apply Now to start your application for Specialised School Transport Assistance.
Applications should be completed by the caregiver with the support of the enrolling school.
We recommend you complete this application with a Chrome browser. (Cellphones do not work)
SESTA is provided to support students to get to the closest state school (or state-integrated school, or educational setting) that the student can enroll at unless another school is deemed the “closest” where:
A Regional Director of Education determines that because of the student’s specific needs they have to enroll at another school; or
The student is attending a special school under an agreement under section 9 of the Education Act; or
The student is subject to a directed enrolment under section 11P of the Education Act 1989.
A school that is, or deemed to be, the closest does not mean that a place in a SESTA vehicle is guaranteed. When deciding whether a place in a vehicle will be provided, the Ministry will consider:
The safety of the student, other students, and driver on the service;
The length of time in a SESTA vehicle. Journey times (one way) should preferably be no longer than 40 minutes; and
The cost and availability of the service.
Where a student is eligible for SESTA but is not attending the closest school they can enroll at, a conveyance allowance will be provided, and not a place in a vehicle.
Ministry decisions are based on the needs of the student. The Ministry is not able to consider the caregiver’s financial position, hours of work, or other unique circumstances.
Students are eligible for SESTA if they meet all of the following criteria:
Are between the ages of 5 and 21 years old, and have safety and/ or mobility needs that prevent them from traveling independently to and from school or accessing public transport or a school bus;
A safety need may be where a significant risk of harm or danger to the student, or to others, exists during the journey to and from school. This may be due to challenges such as epilepsy, communication, and social skills, understanding, self-management, and decision making;
A mobility need may be due to challenges such as reduced mobility, fatigue, medical conditions, or limited motor skills; and
Are attending the closest state school, state-integrated school or other educational settings that they can enrol at.
Students are not eligible for SESTA if they're:
On ACC (caregivers need to contact ACC);
Boarding at residential schools, and need transport to and from home for the weekend or holidays; or
Attending a private school.
Where there is a significant risk of harm or danger to the student, or to others, during the journey to and from school. These may be challenges such as epilepsy, communication, and social skills, understanding, self-management, and decision making. If selected yes on the application for Safety needs, a Safe Travel Plan must be completed and uploaded to the application.
Where the physical or health-related needs of the student prevent independent travel to and from school or their accessing public transport or a school bus. This may include challenges such as reduced mobility, fatigue, medical conditions, or limited motor skills. I selected yes on the application for Mobility needs, a Safe Travel Plan must be completed and uploaded to the application.
Safe Travel Plan
A Safe Travel Plan is required when your child’s behaviours pose a risk to themselves or others while on a vehicle service, or their medical, physical, or other conditions mean that they may require assistance during transport. If assistance is required, you and the school will need to fill out a Safe Travel Plan form to support your SESTA application.
You are responsible for letting the Ministry and transport operators know about any changes that may impact the safety of your child or any other person. When changes occur, a new Safe Travel Plan will need to be provided.
Specialist Equipment Funding Form
If your child is eligible for SESTA, you can apply for Specialist Equipment Funding to pay for equipment that is used for transporting your child to and from school.
What happens after you have submitted your application?
When you submit your application, it will be reviewed, completed, and submitted to the Ministry by the school that your child is enrolling at. You can select to receive email updates on your application’s progress.
Your application will be processed within 10 working days. If your application is approved and you have provided an email address to be kept up to date on your students application, you will receive an email from the Ministry, which will include details of the transport provider to contact to arrange pick-up and drop-off times and any other special arrangements for your child.
To check the progress of your SESTA application, contact your enrolling school or email email@example.com
Roles and Responsibilities
To ensure transport assistance operates safely and efficiently for all SESTA students, the following responsibilities and expectations are required of caregivers and schools. For additional information on driver responsibilities, specialist equipment, and changes in student behaviours/needs, please view the fact sheet below.
Role and responsibility of school staff
The SESTA driver is forbidden to touch any student or leave the vehicle unattended, therefore school staff has the following responsibilities:
Assist in the loading and unloading of a student into or out of a SESTA vehicle, apart from the necessary operation of the vehicle (e.g. activating the wheelchair hoist, removing and attaching wheelchair tie-downs, opening the door, and ensuring the step is available).
Assist students, where required, in and out of the vehicle and fastening the seat belt and any other personal positioning devices.
Ensure that the student has been toileted and is ready to be collected from the agreed pick-up point at the agreed time.
Inform the driver, caregiver, transport providers and Ministry if there have been any changes or events that may impact the student behaviour.
Role and responsibility of the Caregiver
The following is what may be reasonably expected from caregivers.
Advising the transport provider and Ministry when personal contact details change, i.e. changes to a phone number by completing the Change of Information form
Assisting student/s to understand safety rules and encourage them to abide by them.
Working with the transport provider and driver to ensure safe and appropriate student handovers;
Recognising their responsibility for the actions of their children;
Ensuring that the student has finished eating their breakfast and been toileted, and is ready to be collected, from the front entrance of their home at the agreed time.
Ensuring that the vehicle collection/drop-off points have clear access.
Informing the driver, transport provider and school(s) if there have been any changes or events that may impact on student behaviour;
Supplying the appropriate harness or legal restraints for students travelling in SESTA vehicles and that these are well maintained in accordance with the user manual. In some circumstances, the Ministry may accept an application to fund the provision of a harness/restraint.
Assisting students, where required, in and out of the vehicle and fastening the seat belt and any other personal positioning devices.
The personal information on this form is being collected for the purposes of assessing eligibility for SESTA and for reporting and evaluation purposes. The information collected by the Ministry may be used or disclosed by the Ministry only for these purposes.
The information will be used and held by the Ministry under the Privacy Act 2020 (and, where applicable, the Health Information Privacy Code 2020), and you have the right to see the information and ask us to correct it.
Please note that all SESTA vehicles are fitted with internal security cameras. The camera footage is only able to be reviewed by Police, and we require our operators to keep at least the last 168 hours of footage.